A Ghost Forrest in The Heart of London?

20 04 2010

Ghost Forrest Art Project | Angela Palmer |Trafalgar Square

I am always deeply impressed by Artists, who cross boundaries – or erase the them. An Artist, who  is capable of organizing an installation with a message of this caliber – deserves special attention. I myself love with trees. Period. I have no explanation. Just love trees, their grandeur, their  ability to be complete habitats for thousands of  flora and fauna and last but not least – their genetic design to last for over a  milleneum and sustain our very own life on Earth. I can go on and on .  We owe the existence of any civilization on earth to the existence of trees. Few things create more indignation in me that cutting down rainforrest species, under the pretext ( and ignorance ) that they will grow again . . .I also happen to be a deep believer , that with common efforts we can preserve  our environment  healthy  and even  reverse the damage done to the environment up to this point. This is why I was taken by the efforts of an Artist Angela Palmer to create this installation showing  the stumps of Rainforrest species – after they have been cut down due to the  greed, ignorance and plain  miopia of the effect of such cutting.  I do not use the word  ‘harvested’, ( harvesting would mean that it was planted by the  party, who has cut it) – even harvesting trees is equally damaging.  Not to say that ‘harvesting’ trees is justifiable  in any way ,  shape of form. Below follows  is a part of Angela Palmer’s  statement for this installation  in her own words –http://www.angelaspalmer.com .

‘The connection between deforestation and climate change, and the challenge to express that visually, is the basis for my most ambitious and logistically challenging work yet. The concept is to present a series of rainforest tree stumps as a ‘ghost forest’ – using the negative space created by the missing trunks as a metaphor for climate change, the absence representing the removal of the world’s ‘lungs’ through continued deforestation.’

‘Over the past few months I’ve made several field trips to a commercially logged primary rainforest in Ghana where we sourced a group of 10 tree stumps. The Ghost Forest was exhibited in Trafalgar Square in London November 16-22, courtesy of the GLA. It then moved to Copenhagen from December 7-16 to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference, and was situated in Thorvaldsens Plads, a magnificent city centre square next to Parliament Square and the National Museum. More than 12,000 delegates from 193 nations attended the Conference where the future of rainforests was a key component of the agenda.’

‘Both locations provide a powerful stage: Trafalgar Square is one of the world’s most visited tourist sites and the epicentre of Western industrialisation over the past 200 years. Nelson’s Column stands over 50 metres (169 feet) tall, the approximate height many of these trees would have stood. In Copenhagen, Ghost Forest stands as a symbol of threatened rainforest trees throughout the world. Seven indigenous species are represented – Denya, Dahuma, Danta, Hyedua, Mahogany,Wawa and three varieties of Celtis – all with a rich and varied ecology and all with equally diverse uses by man.’

‘It is important to explain the source of these particular trees, Ghana. The tropical rainforests of the Congo Basin are the closest to Europe, just 3,000 miles due south from Trafalgar Square along the Greenwich Meridian. Having lost 90% of its primary rainforest over the past 50 years, Ghana now exercises strict regulations in sustainable and responsible forestry. Last year it became the first country in Africa to enter the VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement) with the European Union in an effort to outlaw illegal logging. Its remaining concessions are all selectively logged, which means the retention, crucially, of the forest canopy; the natural regeneration of the forest; and a viable and sustainable timber industry for the local workforce: the installation therefore carries a message of hope and optimism.’

‘The project has the support of Deutsche Bank, the main sponsor; Arts Council England; the Global Canopy Programme; Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute and the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests; and several other charities and companies. In addition many passionate individuals have given very generously, both financially and with their time. We are still raising funds to complete the Ghost Forest Art Project. I’d be incredibly grateful for any contribution, however small. You may make a donation, and if you wish, leave a message on the Ghost Forest Donation Tree, which is here.

‘My interest in Climate Change began two years ago when I had a dream that I went to the most polluted place in the world wearing a floating white outfit. I then went to the cleanest place on earth wearing an identical white outfit, and exhibited both in a stark white gallery. When I woke I resolved to do just that. I spent a week in the most polluted place on earth, Linfen in Shanxi province in China, a city in the heart of China’s coal mining region, which according to official surveys has the world’s most polluted air and water. I then visited the cleanest – Cape Grim in the North West tip of Tasmania, which benefits from the cleansing blast of the winds of the Roaring Forties. In both places I wore an identical white outfit, and brought back film, photographs, water and air samples, all of which I juxtaposed for my final show at the Royal College of Art in London. The work will be exhibited next month at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road in London. Entitled ‘Breathing In’, the show opens on October 20.’

‘Many people have commented that at the core of my work is a desire to ‘map’; the work is almost always accompanied with a narrative, often the result of months of research involving many specialists. In a way it is old fashioned story-telling, perhaps largely informed by my background in journalism. A common theme running through all my projects is the collision between art and science, and almost without exception the work is the result of collaborations with scientists in every conceivable discipline, from engineers specialising in bio-fluidics, to dust-mite and spider experts, radiologists, veterinary scientists, paediatric dentists and specialists in ancient Egyptian dyes.’

To view the entire text and Angela Palmer’s website -just click on the link.

SOME FACTS YOU PROBABLY DO NOT KNOW:

1.One of the tallest rainforrest species is  Brazil Nut Tree ( Bertoletia Excelsa) is one of tghe largest species in the Amazon  Rainforrests, reaches 100 – 150 feet and may live 500 up to 1000 years. It reproduces with difficulty – its reproduction depends on a certain type of orchid. Withg a straight stem, 3 -6.5  feet in diameter, and a crown that towers over all other canopies of  surrounding tees.

2. Other common  species – in California – Platan (Platanus Occidentalis)  very  tall as well – up to 130 feet, can live up to 2300 years if left alone.

Sincerely,

Tsvetana Yvanova, ASLA,

Artist, Designer & Tree Lover