tree art

Many trees can be used to make living art. You make the sculpture by using the strength of growing trees, the tree takes part in the creating of the sculpture. The artist need to know the qualities of the tree they work with. Every tree have their own distinctive ways to survive in the harsh environment, each have their own evolutionary story to tell.

wrapped tree-art with Ash

wrapped tree-art with Ash

The Japanese make art with trees for centuries in the form of Niwaki, Japanese topiary. The artist prune the trees every year to create the shape they want.  With topiary you can make any shape you want, such as long you have the patience to prune the growing tree for many years.

Flag made with Sycamore

Flag made with Sycamore

The fast growing trees lend themselves for a different kind of tree art. We see many of the fast growing trees as weeds, as they spread so rapidly by seeds. When a tree seed herself in your garden you can even weed her out and plant her elsewhere or make her into a piece of art.

Net in an early stage

Net in an early stage

I used a 7 year old sycamore to make the sculpture ‘Net’. The tree was coppice to a hight easy to work from. When new shoots came in the spring, I choose a strong one and pruned the others away. The growing shoot was leaded along a bamboo stick, when bark formed on the shoot, I moved the bamboo stick to make the shoot grow in a different direction.

net 2 months later

net 2 months later

An other Sycamore, just 3 years old, became the Flag by bending and pruning, two shoots were allowed to grown in the natural direction towards the light. Next to them two Ash trees were used to make Wrap.

willow

willow

Willow has an other force that make them very useful to make living sculptures. They produce a high amount of growing hormones, the old rooting powders to help cuttings root, was made of Willow. This growing hormone gives Willow the strength to root easy and to heal wounds made by eating (pruning) animals. The next few months are the best to take cuttings from Willow and plant them where you want to make a living sculpture. You can cut them as long as you want but how older the branch how harder it is to take root and to bend the branch in the shape you want. The best is to look for an older tree and prune the branches and than wait till next season to prune the new grown branches.

willow ball

willow ball

I found a Willow, along the Shropshire Union Canal, which was pollard, the new shoots were woven and other were pruned away. Now a year later I have a great selection of new grown branches I can use for a new piece of work and planting. The woven branches start to make their own sculpture as they grow into each other as one.

how it looks now

how it looks now

the woven interaction

the woven interaction

The nice thing about making this art in a public area people will interact with it. The Willow hoop I made along the canal was broken yet somebody did like it as now i see this woven willow taken shape in the same spot where I made the last Willow hoop.

the old willow hoop

the old willow hoop

Now i will help whoever made this woven Willow and keep on weaving here. The other Willow sculpture is a bit hidden so more safe from judgement of the human eye. By weaving or pruning a Willow you don’t kill her or even damage her you help her to grow even more and stronger.

the new willow hoop made by a passer by

the new willow hoop made by a passer by

The pruned Willow you can plant by just sticking it in the ground or in the early spring by putting them in a vase with water to let them make roots. When there are some roots you can plant them where you would like.  Willow is brilliant tree to use for land art as a part of the Bridge Land Art Forest.

willowart rockwillow6monthslater

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Hollow Tree OAK

One day i found a hollow part of a trunk along the Shropshire Union Canal. Somebody discarded it as no use for burning as the centre is half rotten and some of the wood was composted into soil. The idea to use it one day to plant it with a tree in it an old tree giving space to a new tree even feeding giving soil to the new tree. The hollow tree trunk lived for several weeks now on top of the roof looking a part of the small land-art garden.

the roof garden

the roof garden

The soil washed away during the travels but has been replaced once again with soil from a mole-hill and one of the small Oaks found her new home in it. Here it will grow for the next few months until we are back at the Shropshire Union Canal where she will be planted with trunk and all in the soil to grow.

the tree trunk

the tree trunk

From this came the next planting. An old tree trunk next to the Trend and Mersey Canal, a dead Willow. The last planting had a circle of willows around the Oak this time the Oak went into the Willow. Willow trees don’t grow old but do grow fast, at their end of life circle they become hollow and just fall over.

digging out

digging out

This Willow tree was wisely cut and left, it was a big tree with several stems. If you pollard a Willow it can become a good old tree but will also hollow out creating a brilliant habitat for wildlife while the tree keeps on growing. We saw many along the canals, they become real sculptures.

the soil mixture

the soil mixture

The Willow had a soft centre which i removed al the way down to the bottom and filled it with old coffee, tea and soil with plenty of stones for drainage. It felt like a sponge so soft and very wet, my arm was just long enough to come to the bottom. The little Oak went in, no need for water the surrounding tree trunk will act as a sponge while the rain can dribble away to the bottom through all the rocks. You can see the stinging nettle taking well advantage of the rotting tree-trunk. The nettles feeding in their turn the surrounding soil for any plant who comes along on the wind.

new tree in old tree

new tree in old tree

The Oak will slowly grow and become old, the tree-trunk will slowly but certainly rot away around the new tree. The soil can wash away from the bottom leaving some bare old roots but the Oak will grow on evolving in her own root sculpture. Before the root sculpture to appear many years will pass as nature has no haste. Around her some rocks were placed from the places she visited on her trip on top of the boat.

the rocks from the canals

the rocks from the canals

Sand stone from the Shropshire Union Canal, flint from the Grand Union canal from the Cassiobury park where one of her sisters grows now, a round pebble from the Coventry Canal. One pebble came from Trefin Beach the root of the bridge planting that I do.

tree sensation

tree sensation

Finally she got an inscription of tree sensations.

here we go again

here we go again

 

BRIDGE 4

BRIDGE 4

We went onto the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal to cruise into tranquility. There next to Bridge 4 i planted 13 Willows and 2 Oaks again as a part of the Bridge Land Art forest.

Cruising into the Aylesbury Arm

Cruising into the Aylesbury Arm

The weather was warm and the Willows and Oaks started to suffer in their much too small pots. The Willow were just cuttings in water, the growth on them was beyond the power of their roots in the water, they needed soil. In all the pots were 2 acorns therefor two Oaks a bit crowded for the young establishment.

Bridge 4

Bridge 4

I saw a perfect spot right by Bridge 4, so The Wånderlust was moored and i walked over the bridge whit my few tools and the plants. Right there amongst the tall grass spots of bare soil came bare and just with the help of a bulb-planter, holes were made just big enough for the small Willows to go in. In the centre of 9 Willows came a special Oak. At first it looked the pot had 3 Oaks but it worked out that one Oak sprouted with two stems. The beginning of a very special artistic Oak, just imagine in times to come to see these two stems growing into two thick trunks, pushing each other towards a site. I can imagine the arguments; lets go east to the sunrise yes me too oooh not enough space you have to go west, no way you go west, no i stay east, thats not fair why you why not me. The diplomatic trunk pushed the other into the south selling it as the best part to be with so much sunshine while it always  pinched the early sunshine, the vibration after the cold dark night.

Oak with two stems

Oak with two stems

The Willow act as a circle of protection as any grassing animal will go for the Willows leaving the Oak alone. The Willow leaves would feed the Oak some growing hormones by decomposing into the surrounding soil.

Willow

Willow

The weather stayed warm for several days not the best for the young trees and my mind was with them but they had to defend for themselves now, an important part of the Bridge Land Art Forest. Nature gave the needed relieve in the form of some big summer showers.

all you need

all you need

In Aylesbury the word spread about the young Oak trees while we had for several days our popUP Gallery. I made even some contacts with a community art centre the Queens Park Arts Centre. Next year i will give some workshops and have decided that one of the Oaks growing at our home mooring in Nantwich will be a part of the workshop.

planting

planting

While occupied with the Wånderlust cruising art gallery, i found out that one of my old neighbours grew 12 Oaks from acorns, which he will plant in the small forest where i made many pieces of land art. A fine example how the Bridge Land Art Forest can grow. While the political forces i Europe battle about in or out EU and the old nationalistic demands all of us can make a difference in our own small way. As a 100 people plant 12 Oaks each around the world 1200 Oaks will grow beyond the power of man and if we keep this up for 12 years we have planted 14,400 trees in 14.400 different spots making 14.400 unique statements. Think of the aspect if each of them 100 people can inspire an other 4 people to do the same we will have after 12 years planted 57,600 trees and if them 400 people inspire an other 4 people we would have planted after 12 years 230,400 trees planted by 1600 people. Just imagine a bridge of all them trees in a line on the land that would be 57,600 trees taking each 4 metres makes 2300400 metres of trees or 230 kilometres hats from Cardiff to London.

on our way back

on our way back

So you can see with a little effort and little resources you can make a difference that will be recognise for years to come. Each planted tree leaving a sculptural mark on the land.

 

HIDDEN

Today the first little Oaks went into the ground as a part of the Bridge Land Art Project. The acorn was planted last autumn, you read about it on this blog.

The little Oak in her pot

The little Oak in her pot

The last two months the Oak came along with us, on top of our NarrowBoat Wånderlust.
Two Oaks in this pot so it was time to plant one of them, even they only came up a few weeks ago.
It is amazing to see how much she grew already.

the plant and her root

The plant and the root

You can clearly see the acorn and how it sprouted out into a little baby tree.

acron

acorn

The acorn was planted in the soil of a mole hill and just near our mooring i saw a mole hill hidden under some green. It is at the edge of a beautiful forest park along the towpath.
The spot for this little tree.

het plekje

het plekje

The clearing began and the collection of rocks to keep the soil of the mole hill in place. While working some people past asking what i was doing, so I showed the little tree. Now this tree has some local people who will keep an eye on her to make sure she keeps on growing.

mount of rocks

mount of rocks

Around this area, you can find lots of brilliant flint rocks. The beauty of flint is the many shapes and colours it comes in.
In the early morning i went out in the dew to look for rocks and dew drops.
While looking i found this bizarre mounts in the middle of the forest. No idea why, no idea what, yet they are made on purpose. Somebody has been creative, helping me to find plenty of great stones.

hidden

One mount after an other mount of dug up clay, what else can you say than hidden confusion.

hidden confusion
from within she reappears
warm
with a tingle in her toes
no need to hide
or
—…..—
she looks back
hidden
confusion
never mind the muddy hands

Oak on rocks let her grow

Oak on rocks let her grow

There 4 more Oaks on the roof of the boat waiting for an other good spot. One of them will be planted with a circle of Willows, which are also on top of the roof.

 

FLOAT

FLOAT

Wandering along the canals while wondering how to approach The Canal and River trust, I thought it would be good to make something to show them.  Willow grows along the canals and rivers naturally, most Willows like wet feet. While looking and thinking this surreal apple comes  floating along in the canal. So the idea for Float was born.

floating apple

Willow is such a brilliant material, you can make so many things with it.  It has evolved by creating lots of growing hormones, rooting powder used to be made from Willow. It grows quick back after cutting it back, even when you cut it back to the ground. Willow is on the menu for many animals so to survive all this eating it just grows.

float bridge

twisted willow knotted together

I made a Willow bridge by twisting some Willow branches together, which will grow one day as one. The surrounding branches were cut to make in a floating piece of art. Taking and giving while knotting the bridge together with jute. The knotting can be very relaxing almost like a therapy to work out all your problems in your head by drifting away  like the apple going where ever the streaming takes you.

float knot closeup

closeup from the knot

The towpath along the canal has a walking trail called the Weavers Way. So the Willow branches were woven into a kind of fence. An Apple would have been lovely but hard to make into a drifting poem. Now the poem would be a problem which material to use to make it float, a floating poem as part of my many land-art poems. I use slate to write on but is a bit heavy.

willow weaving

The poem became a Haiku with 5-7-5 syllabus in 3 lines.

FLOAT

for a better mood

drifting to solitude

an apple moves

float with apple

Autumn created one big drifting circus on the canal with fallen leaves. Float with leaves and apple into the water but leaves and apple float faster than willow and slate.  The apple became a party for the geese, how to eat a floating apple.

float geese

 

geese party

 

 

 

apple gone

Leaves and float did meet again at the lock, than some final preparations to make the float look more like a boat and the final FLOAT floats away on the canal.

float in leaves at sluis/lock

float at the lock

 

floating land art

 

 

final float

the string to stop it from floating out of control *_*

The Canal and River Trust and boater will not like to see more debris floating in the water. The propellers on the boat get stuck with all these bits and pieces around them. So Float ended up as a fence and in the future will become a living fence as the Willow starts to grow.

float als fence

standing strong as a growing fence

Willow is very good material for free trees to plant as land art for the Bridge project, it is like growing art material for weaving willow sculptures or arty baskets. No matter how much you cut it it will come back and give you more material for art.

float closeup

closeup

 

So became the beginning of planting land art with poems. Now put it all together for a good proposal towards the Canal and River Trust to get permission to do the work.
The material is free, my time is all for promotion of Wånderlust the floating gallery. I am therefor very hopeful to get the permission, to prevent that all them wonderful young trees will get mowed or trimmed to the ground.

The BRIDGE, land-art forest

Last night I got the idea:
The BRIDGE, a new land art project which involves the planting of trees creating a thousand little and big land art forests all over the world. An ambitious project that can happen with the help of many people becoming land artists in their own environments.

an old oak tree as a piece of art, where culture and nature come together for the future

an old oak tree as a piece of art, where culture and nature come together for the future

It all started when i went to Rhôd where artists talked about future, nature, culture. A question which has been on my mind for a very long time is: ‘How can culture become nature for the future?’. The land art project Vagdavercustis gave me an answer: work with trees. This project taught me many lessons and i want to share them so there will be many land art forests all over the world.
The idea is not art in the forest, but the forest, the trees, being the art. You can plant the trees in certain patterns on the bare land, creating art with nature for the future.

planting trees in a pattern, every white rock becoming a tree

planting trees in a pattern, every white rock becoming a tree

A good idea, yet there are many perhaps and maybes. Here comes my knowledge and the learnings from Vagdavercustis useful. As with everything it will cost ‘money’ yet it will pay itself back in a very different way.

When Joseph Beuys created the 7,000 OAKS art project he made everybody an artist and the piece went further than just seven thousand Oaks. Whilst throwing 7000 basalt steles in front of the main location of the 1982 “documenta” in Kassel he took an entire city with all politicians and citizens as hostage; this ugly pile of grey stone was such a thread that the first thousand oaks were sold in no time. Beuys had the power and will to force society – or culture, so to say – into doing something valuable for the environment. A great idea and you can find all these oaks, each one together with its rock, al over the city.

However i am not Joseph Beuys and will have to work dam hard to get this kind of power he had at the end of his life. So i almost gave up, a well a good idea.

Hindmarsh Island Bridge

Hindmarsh Island Bridge

The above photo is the Hindmarsh Island Bridge and you can read the story about a very controverse building on wikipedia.
So last night i lay in bed to watch the Moon travel by, thinking about how to help and how all them good people with all them very good ideas never get a chance, people are so unfair to the people of the land. My mind went to the time i visited the people of Camp Coorong , the Ngarrindjeri people, the disaster about the building of the bridge and how they solved it in the end by buying a boat to get to their sacred land on Hindmarsh Island.The Ngarrindjeri people didn’t gave up, didn’t have much funding, but continue to care for their beautiful land.

the Coorong with a watchful dog looking at the far away Pelican.

The Coorong with a watchful dog looking at the far away Pelican.

How many people do feel just like me, being frustrated and angry and have given up stopping bridges to be build to develop more and more land for human usage.
So my mind went to “mindfullness thinking” in the now –  the future nor the past – but now. How can i plant trees now?
I thought about  somebody who just grew trees in the backyard and every spring he went with trees on the back of the bicycle to plant them in neglected areas or cleared areas in forests. We all could do so: direct action, for nature, creating art. We can plant them in patterns, we all can link together like a bridge creating a world wide bridge from culture to culture, a bridge from culture to nature. All these pieces of land art, tree art, forest art would have their own stories of their environment and their creator.
Nobody needs to be an expert; me and others could give advice how to plant the trees, when to plant them and how to choose a good spot. A website could be created with photos of all them pieces of art, all those bridges.
The website would show how to grow trees from seed or from cuttings even in a backyard or where to buy bare root trees. And how to look after them the first 2 years when they are adjusting to the environment.

A bridge as a connection at Trefin Beach

A bridge as a connection at Trefin Beach

Yesterday i made this bridge on the beach and when i walked back i came across an area perfect for some BRIDGE planting. I have 2 self seeded little baby trees in the garden who are not in the best spot; I will take them out in autumn put them in pots and plant them  again in the spring. A small stone bridge will come between them, like the above one, that made my heart smile and it made me sleep like a Rose.
So was the land art project BRIDGE born.
I might spend some time to create a website and to start the ball rolling – ready for next spring planting.

For the big land art forest, that i have in mind i need more time and i was still not so sure about it. Than the newsletter from Ecotricity, my power supplier, came in with an article about their new project: “Green Britain Foundation”. I will get in touch with them and talk about my ideas to get another ball rolling. I need a good land owner who would like to give a piece of land for the planting of a land art forest and the rest will come with it.
This is just an early step, a seed has been planted, it will take time to grow.

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK?