Katie Paterson’s latest installation at Royal Fort Gardens in Bristol, England, titled “Hollow”, was created using samples from over 10,000 different types of wood. She describes her creation as “a microcosmos of all the world’s trees”. The wood samples that comprise this work were collected from around the world, and they are the result of three years of dedicated work and travels. Paterson uses many common tree species, such as redwoods, ginkgos, cedars and palms. In addition, she managed to obtain a piece of a 5,000-year-old Methuselah tree, one of the oldest living organisms in the world, as well as a piece of railroad from the Panama Canal Railway and wood from the Atlantic City Boardwalk that was destroyed in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy.
Paterson’s sculpture encompasses almost the entire arboreal history, containing a sample of petrified wood thought to be 390 million years old, along with pieces of the oldest and youngest trees in the world. Many of the trees are closely linked with important stories of humanity, such as the Indian Banyan Tree, the tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment, and the Japanese Ginkgo tree in Hiroshima, the tree which survived World War II. The sculpture also represents almost every country on the planet. Though it more closely resembles a native american wigwam or a pile of wooden blocks from the exterior, the interior of the sculpture holds thousands of wooden rods of varying sizes that extend downward from the ceiling and upwards from the floor, creating the appearance of stalactites and stalagmites. Two people can fit inside the sculpture, which serves as an enclosed, meditative space where one is literally surrounded by the history of the world. Sunlight enters the sculpture through openings in the roof. This filtered light resembles the dappled effect of sunlight through a forest ceiling.
Several of Paterson’s past projects have also experimented with fusing the natural world and its sciences with artistic sculpture and installation. “Hollow” was commissioned by the University of Bristol and made in collaboration with Zeller & Moye architects. The installation will be permanently located in the Royal Fort Gardens in Bristol, England. To read more, see the article here.