Pine. Laura Mason.

London: Reaktion Books, 2013. Octavo, laminated boards, photographs, illustrations.

WAS $33. This beautifully illustrated book reveals the many ways in which pine trees have inspired and been utilized by humanity through history, providing a fascinating survey of these rugged, aromatic trees that are found the world over. Despite their dark and gloomy reputation pine trees have been the subjects of artists for centuries, particularly in China and Japan where they symbolize wisdom and longevity, and are admired for their shapes. The natural history of pine trees underlines their ability to survive in difficult environments, and their botany still puzzles and intrigues. Their resin provided adhesives, water-proofers and medicines before oil derivatives and modern pharmaceuticals were developed. Their wood is ubiquitous, incorporated into buildings, furniture and paper pulp. Pinecones fascinate with their complex shapes, and provide pine nuts and food for animals and humans.
Pine trees have inspired artists, writers, film-makers and photographers throughout history, and as a consequence the sombre, brooding atmosphere of pine woods are found in poetry, movies, art and literature.

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