Touch wood: Katie Paterson and Zeller & Moye unveil Hollow installation in Bristol

Touch wood: Katie Paterson and Zeller & Moye unveil Hollow installation in Bristol

To create a work of art that contains a bit of the world’s forests sounds a rather romantic notion, but artist Katie Paterson took a far more scientific approach.

Following a three year research and sourcing process, over 10,000 unique tree species were gathered from across the planet to create Hollow, a new public artwork created in conjunction with Berlin- and Mexico City-based architecture practice Zeller & Moye.

’Some samples are incredibly rare,’ explains Paterson of her mini forest, ’fossils of unfathomable age, and fantastical trees such as Cedar of Lebanon, the Phoenix palm, and the Methuselah tree, [which is] thought to be one of the oldest trees in the world at 4,847 years of age.’ Reclaimed wood from the Panama Canal Railway and remnants of the iconic Atlantic city boardwalk devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 also form part of the installation.

A blend of ancient cave and primitive hut, a cluster of thick Douglas fir planks sits on the historic Royal Fort Gardens, hiding the rich biodiversity within.

’The design conjoins thousands of wooden blocks of differing sizes to form one immense cosmos of wood producing textures, apertures and stalactites,’ explain architects Christoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye. Small openings in the vaulted top allow just enough natural light to filter in to create the dappled light effect of a forest canopy.

Commissioned by Bristol-based arts producers Situations to mark the opening of the University of Bristol’s new Life Sciences Building, the installation is a rather fitting tribute to that department. Paterson’s process and the creation of Hollow has also been filmed for the BBC Four series What Do Artists Do All Day?

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