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Domenica de Ferranti chose to create her tree sculpture The Acacia Tree in bronze. The piece features a tree she encountered whilst in Tanzania. In her artwork, the tree’s fanned out branches create a canopy above the figure that sits beneath – as if the tree were protecting them.
While some might argue that trees are already a type of sculpture, artists have long experimented with using different materials to create their own trees – particularly in order to reach the public outside of art galleries.
Canadian artist Douglas Coupland gave his giant tree sculpture to the people of Toronto when he installed the piece Golden Tree outside a real-estate developer’s office. The piece is a faithful representation of the shape of a tree with its gnarled ridges and roots on full display, but the way Coupland finishes the sculpture in gold gives the common tree a god-like status.
It’s not only artists who are inspired to create tree sculptures, but also architects. London-based firm Tonkin Liu created the Panopticon, Singing Ringing Tree sculpture in Lancashire. The tower of galvanised steel pipes leans to one side, as if bending in the wind. Looking down from its vantage point over Burnley, the tree produces an eery and otherworldly hum, as if it were a group of giant whales serenading the town.
Another British architecture firm, Grant Associates, has experimented with trees as public art – this time in Singapore. The city’s Supertree Grove features tree sculptures that range between 25 metres and 50 metres in height. These tree sculptures do not only mimic the structure of trees but also their function. They intake exhaust fumes and absorb rainwater to channel to nearby water fountains. They also use solar power to channel the light shows that take place every night. Living alongside trees, it’s easy for the plants to become ordinary. But Singapore’s Supertree Grove is a reminder of how much trees are capable of in their service to the planet’s ecosystem.