Monday, 1 June 2015

Giant Tree Sculpture Cast from the Trunk of a 140-Year-Old Hemlock

Recently unveiled at the MadArt space in Seattle, Middle Fork is the latest sculptural work by artist John Grade who worked with countless volunteers to help build this enormous mould of a 140-year-old tree.

The process began a year ago when Grade and a crew of assistants scaled a Western Hemlock tree in North Bend, Washington (an area made famous by David Lynch's serial drama Twin Peakswith help of a team of arborists. At nearly 90 feet in the air they created sectional plaster moulds of the living tree which were carefully lowered and transported back to the MadArt space over a period of two weeks.

Back at MadArt Space, these plaster casts were used as the base on which to build a seamless wood skin that consisted of more than half a million stacked pieces of old-growth cedar.

Over the next 12 months, hundreds of volunteers, some who walked in right off the streets, helped to create a hollow sculpture of the tree using hundreds of thousands of the small cedar blocks. And Grade says the location, in Seattle’s busy and tech-heavy South Lake Union neighbourhood, provided an interesting contrast, because it took untold hours to piece this thing together, forcing his volunteers to slow down. All kinds of people showed up, from a 98-year-old retiree to a bus driver, a doctor, a lawyer, and several groups of students and tech workers, Grade says --a  couple hundred in total. The final piece was carefully sanded down and then suspended horizontally  in the gallery. Watch the video at the end of this post to see how it all came together.

After the sculpture has been exhibited over the course of two years, it will be returned to the base of the standing old-growth Hemlock it was cast from and lay on the forest floor to gradually moss over and disintegrate into the ground. The tree is on private land but special viewing days will be announced and open for the public to visit the sculpture at various stages in its disintegration.


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