Katie Paterson and Zeller & Moye, Hollow, Situations, Bristol

A new permanent public artwork has taken residence in Bristol’s historic Royal Fort Gardens. Produced by Situations and commissioned by University of Bristol to mark the opening of the its new Life Sciences building, Hollow invites viewers to see the history of our planet through a microcosm of each of its forests. A collaboration between artist Katie Paterson and architects Zeller & Moye, the commission is the result of three years of research and sourcing.

The artwork unites 10,000 varieties of tree, from petrified samples of the world’s earliest forests to the most recently emergent species. The different textures, stalactites and apertures that have been produced by conjoining thousands of wooden blocks, help bring this lookalike canopy to life, introducing the city its first miniature forest.

Hollow acts as a sculptural anthology of the species that witnessed the most resonant events of history. It is the largest collection of trees in the UK to date, including the Indian Banyan tree, under which Buddha received enlightenment, to Japanese Ginkgo from Hiroshima. Architects Christopher Zeller and Ingrid Moye, known for their interdisciplinary and global approach, describe the inside of Hollow as an “introverted and meditative space”. The interior certainly feels a world away from urban distractions.

By allowing just enough light to seep through the vaulted tops of the structure to create what feels like dappled woodland shade, the viewer is ensconced in the whole history of the world’s forests. This gives the viewer an opportunity to ponder the material’s resonance and, in turn, the ever increasing threats that face our planet’s delicate ecosystems.

Situations has also developed a public participation project with BBC Four. Treebank invites viewers to contribute creative responses to illustrate how trees influence our experience of the planet. These insights could be audio or visual perceptions that explore the personal resonance of a particular tree, ultimately forming a picture of how trees shape our earthly experiences in 2016.

Katie Paterson and Zeller & Moye, Hollow,  produced by Situations and commissioned by University of Bristol, Royal Fort Gardens, Bristol.

For more, visit www.situations.org.uk/projects/hollow.

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1. Hollow, 2016. Courtesy of Situations.