In 2009, people strolling in the woods near David Marshall Lodge in Scotland started finding themselves face-to-face with literal reflections of the landscape -- and sometimes of themselves. Hiding in plain sight in the woods are six mirrored figures (three men and three women), reflecting the trees, sky, and seasonal changes.
They look like ghostly inhabitants of another dimension, but they're actually an installation piece by artist Rob Mulholland. Mulholland's work includes various installations and sculptures that challenge our perceptions of time, space, and reality.
This piece is called Vestige, and combines multiple themes of history, memory, and the relationship between humans and nature. "I wanted to explore this relationship further by creating a group, a community within the protective elements of the woods, reflecting the past inhabitants of the space," Mulholland explains on his site.
This particular area of Scotland was originally open farm and grazing land, as well as a home to small farming communities. After World War I, the residents were relocated by the government, and the land was planted over with fast-growing trees, as the country was desperate for timber after the war. The area has remained a forest to this day, but you can still make out the remains of the old houses and villages that once existed here.
This history inspired Mulholland to create a link between the present, the past, and the land itself.
The figures represent the people who used to live on this land before being removed, but also the way humans can drastically alter nature.
Mulholland describes the six figures as representing "a faint trace of the past people and communities that once occupied and lived in this space." He goes on to explain. "The figures absorb their environment, reflecting in their surface the daily changes of life in the forest. They create a visual notion of non-space, a void, as if they are at one moment part of our world and then, as they fade into the forest, they become an intangible outline."
The intertwined nature of this installation goes even deeper once viewers are involved. If you approach the figures, you'll also see yourself. In this way, you, the viewer, become part of the piece as the present looks into the past and sees where it comes from. It also reflects humans in a (somewhat) natural environment, and how the natural and artificial constantly reflect one another.
At the bottom left, you can see Mulholland with one of his mirrored figures. These figures are featured in many of his pieces.
Vestige wasn't originally intended as such, but hikers liked it so much that it's become a permanent exhibit. You can still see it today if you're ever in the woods in this area of the world. As for Mulholland, he's been creating installations and sculptures since, and has had recent exhibits throughout Europe and in Korea. You can see more of his work on his website, and keep up with his latest projects on Facebook.