Benedict Sibley, ‘Citriodora’, (Lemon Scented Gum, Urban Forest Tree ID: 1022037) Detail, Compressed charcoal on Arches paper, 102.5 x 78.5 cm
Inspired by the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Visual, artists were invited to create works that honour and advocate for Melbourne's trees.
Opening 11 October at 6pm, TREE will show at fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, until 22 October.
TREE will be officially opened by CLIMARTE Ambassador Professor David Karoly.
11 October till 22 October
at fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Gallery information and opening hours here.
A liveable climate needs trees and trees need a liveable climate.
It was through musing and imagining the multitudes of multispecies connections, interdependencies and communications—in the context of the Climate Emergency and the City of Melbourne’s world leading Urban Forest Strategy— that CLIMARTE’s TREE project was conceived.
Imagine if the countless non-human life forms that inhabit Melbourne could also express their appreciation for all the incredible gifts (oxygen, habitats, shade, comfort and so on) that the City of Melbourne’s now 80,000+ beloved local trees provide day in day out? Imagine what the trees themselves would be saying about being exposed to a climate and biodiversity emergency.
Conversely, The Urban Forest Strategy enables people to email the trees. Since the program launched in 2013, Melbourne’s trees have received thousands of love letters from humans near and far, some from as far as the furthest curves of the Earth.
We thank all participating artists for their unique and wonderful contributions to this legacy collection.
Submissions were assessed by a panel composed of Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Councillor Jamal Hakim, portfolio lead for Creative Melbourne and deputy portfolio lead for City Activation and Health, Wellbeing and Belonging, Guy Abrahams, CLIMARTE Co-Founder and Ambassador, and two CLIMARTE Committee Members.
Featuring 25 artworks, TREE presents work from Katherine Boland, Michelle Burns, Olga Dziemidowicz, Erica Elgin, Ariella Friend, Janice Gobey, Rod Gray, Lauren Guymer, Robbie Harmsworth, Zoé Haynes-Smith, Heather Hesterman, Bridget Hillebrand, Kathy Holowko & Sarah Moore, Todd Johnson, Linda Judge, Martin King, Susie Lachal, Nancy Lliang, Jan McLellan Rizzo, Zahra Marsous, Jarrad Martyn, Julia Schmitt, Benedict Sibley, Charlotte Watson and Barbara Wheeler.
Creative Producer, Jo Lane.
You can read the artists’ brief from TREE’s open callout here.
Artist Biographies here.
TREE Works list here.
Events associated with TREE:
11 October 2022 6.30pm – details and images here >
17 October – International performance artist Dr Angela Viora created SHADOWS by tracing the trees’ shadows on the ground with chalk, pedestrians see the traces the day after during the day-light, stepping onto them. These interventions work as reminders to Melbournians of the importance of the work that trees do for us 24/7, incessantly, day and night.
As part of the Big Anxiety Festival, TREE hosted a special workshop Towards an Ecological Self: Mapping Our Relations with Trees on 15 October in collaboration with Psychology for a Safe Climate, Sydney Environment Institute, and the Knowledge Translation Strategic Platform of Maridulu Budyari Gumal SPHERE.
TREE Exhibition Special Event 21 October, 5.30pm.
Fiona Brown | Senior Urban Forester (Capital Projects) and Giuliana Leslie | Project Officer – Urban Forest and Ecology | Parks and City Greening, discuss the process and project of the Urban Forest Project. Information here.
Scroll down to view an interactive map showing the locations of trees featured in artworks.
This Interactive Map displays the locations of trees featured in the exhibition:
Michelle Burns 'Decomposition'
Oil on paper 6 x (5×7 inches) URBAN FOREST ID: 1036769 In the multi-panelled artwork ‘Decomposition’ the same leaf is painted six times as it turns from green to brown and decays. The artwork title also references the word ‘composition’ as used in art. I had a picnic with my family after a visit to the Melbourne Museum in February 2022. We sat on a blanket under the shade of a tree watching our children play in the ‘Carlton Gardens North’ playground. We took a leaf home as a memento of our day. Through using the ‘City of Melbourne Urban Forest Project’ website I was later able to find and identify this tree as a Yellow Chestnut Oak and discover other information about it.
Olga Dziemidowicz 'Celebrating 1029363'
Charcoal on Japanese paper, framed in oak 120x105cm URBAN FOREST ID: 1029363 This work is a celebration of the mature tree number 1029363 that stands directly in front of the entry to the NGV. The Platanus has been providing oxygen, shade, beauty and more, long before the building of the National Gallery has even been built and housing artworks. I believe that the contribution made by the tree 1029363, as well as many other trees (especially mature ones) should be celebrated. In our society we often underestimate the long and important contributions older people make. It’s more than likely that it is happening to trees as well. When trees get too old, too sick and frail they are simply cut, removed or otherwise disposed of and forgotten. I’d like to commemorate and celebrate them and somehow capture their mark in order to elevate it and remember the tree that will disappear in the next decade (according to the Urban Forest’s website, describing the future of mature trees). Commemorating 1029396 is a frotage; an image created by rubbing with charcoal/graphite on paper put against the trunk of the tree. It creates an imprint of the rich and abstract texture of the bark, capturing the unique bark print pattern of 1029363 at a point in time; Like a unique portrait, it captures the specific and unique characteristics of tree 1029363 in an artistic way, and commemorates its contribution for years to come.
Erica Elgin 'Outside observation I, II and III'
Copper plate aquatint on 300gsm paper 356 x 762 mm each (framed) Urban Forest ID: 1028365 Outside Observation I, II and III is a suite of aquatint etchings which are an exploration and expression of the profound emotive reactions experienced when noticing the captivating details of nature present across Melbourne. This intense celebration of texture, movement and colour aims to extend the viewer’s perspective from seen to sensed, inviting a deeper appreciation of the living world. Intuitive and emotionally-charged reactions to tree 1028365 within the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest have been recorded on copper plates, aided by en plein air observations and photographic documentation. The sensations and impressions encountered during these observation of tree 1028365 form an abstract landscape of raw emotions with an interplay of evocative colours and a rush of textural movement punctuated with moments of pause. Rich and varied hues and gradients underly the copper plate layers, with movement through stages of increasing development during multi-plate processes recalling the growth and temporal element of maturation of a plant through its life-cycle.
Ariella Friend ‘Confessions of A Eucalyptus Argyle Apple Tree’
Digitally printed paper, acrylic paint, cardboard, varnish, 90 x 90 cm Urban Forest ID: 1583033 Located in South Yarra near St Kilda Rd “I am a Eucalyptus Argyle Apple Tree, ID number 1583033. You can also call me Eucalyptus cinerea, mealy stringbark or silver dollar tree. I have rough, fibrous bark on my trunk and branches, dense blue grey foliage, egg shaped evergreen leaves and white flowers. I live in South Yarra near St Kilda Rd and most people will walk straight past me without giving me a second thought. To you, I’m just a medium sized tree in a park. I stand quietly cooling the city and cleansing the air. That’s not all I do though. I watch, I listen. I have recorded past events such as weather, droughts, floods, storms, fires and pests. I have communicated with my fellow trees through our root systems and provide a safe haven for birds and animals. I have followed your stories, your conversations, your first kiss, your last divorce. I’m actually quite busy. You would probably never know this until you cut me open to reveal the tree rings inside my stump. Here you will find information as precise as digital data. Welcome to my inner world. It’s a colourful place filled with secrets both past and present.” In ‘Confessions of A Eucalyptus Argyle Apple Tree’, Ariella Friend has created an artwork based on the information contained within the Eucalyptus Argyle Apple’s tree rings. This work intends to reflect life through the perspective of this tree and the interconnectedness of humans and nature in the urban environment.
Janice Goby 'Autumn Quartet'
Oil on Arches 300 gsm Huille paper 56 x 76 cm Urban Forest Tree ID: 1040102 I moved to Melbourne in 2001 and one of the reasons the City appealed, was the amazing forest of trees. I visited in Autumn and made the decision to pack up and move. My selected Tree is a Liquidamber Styraciflua, planted in 1998. I find the colours of this tree and it’s relatives irresistible, the beautiful yellows, golds, oranges, burgundy and red leaves so rich in colour. Being in the Autumn of my own life, I wanted to represent a Tree at a similar stage. Whilst in lockdown, I started to create paintings looking up into these trees, maybe as a form of escape. The trees represented life and freedom to me. The work is split into 4 representing different views of the tree and the space between which is unknown. When I first worked in the City, I used to go to Treasury Gardens to escape the stress of starting life again in a new city, eating my lunch under the beautiful trees and connecting with nature. I can’t imagine Melbourne without trees, it would be devastating if the climate changes to such an extent that these trees can no longer survive.
Rod Gray 'domain'
Ink and acrylic on paper, somerset 300gsm 100% cotton acid free paper 120 x 60 cm Moreton Bay Fig, URBAN FOREST Tree ID 1028938 This work emerged from a substantial consideration of the inner Melbourne trees and what they mean to me. Endurance was a strong consideration for me. Somehow what they endure and that they are so significant a presence. I can’t imagine Domain road without these trees – it would be hideous and dull. I first experienced these trees last century! They have been there so long, working to process vehicle emissions and rubbish dumped on them every day. Most significantly for us into the future is the enormous dense canopy and temperate micro-climate they are maintaining with their life-energy. Like all the inner urban trees the Moreton Bay Figs are a domain themselves for many creatures and birds, insects and healthy microbes that do as much as an ICU to keep this a healthy liveable city
Lauren Guymer 'Gum Reflections I, Gum Reflections II'
Watercolour on cotton paper, varnished and stretched on birch board. Ea 100 x 70 cm URBAN FOREST Tree ID: 1051893 & 1055649 My paintings celebrate two Eucalyptus trees at the Trin Warren Tam-Boore (ID:1051893) and the Australian Native Garden (ID: 1055649) in Royal Park, located on Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri country. They are found in separate areas of the park, but the physical artworks have been joined with the bodies of water that are intrinsic to their surrounding environments. These water features treat and cycle the stormwater naturally and are successful examples of the management and importance of parks in our urban environment. Both paintings depict literal and re-constructed elements formed through sketches and notes I created on location earlier this Winter. I paid particular attention to the species of plants in each area and selected a tree with a commanding presence. Painted with watercolour on paper, I created the final artworks with countless layers and marks to evoke an immersive experience of the place. The paintings work side by side in harmony with one another and explore the ecological balance found within nature, where every element works together and is part of an impressive cycle.
Robbie Harmsworth 'Portrait of the Yate Tree'
Graphite and coloured pencil on Waterford 300 gsm paper. 113 x 95cm URBAN FOREST ID: 1032661 Upon reading the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest brief, I was moved by the phrase ‘Creating a city within a forest, not a forest within a city.’ The fate of Australian forests has been at the forefront of my art practice, with a particular interest in the destruction of forests in Tasmania, (the wilful logging Styx and Florentine Valley, and currently the efforts of the Bob Brown foundation to obstruct the creation of a toxic waste dump in the Tarkine) also the logging of the Toolangi State forest threatening the survival of the leadbeater possum. I was particularly drawn to the Yate tree: Eucalyptus cornuta on the corner of Domain and Birdwood Avenue, a ‘significant tree’ on the National Trust Register, having been planted by Baron Von Mueller from seed he collected from South West Australia. The magnificent ‘Yate’ tree is 21m tall and has a 2m circumference. The tree is 145 years old, and deemed in poor condition. I felt drawn to make a portrait of this beautiful specimen, particularly in light of its poor health and the question as to its legacy. I have created a portrait of Eucalyptus cornuta, using graphite as my medium. The process of drawing is time consuming, and I find the intimacy of line drawing becomes a conduit to forming a profound relationship with the subject. I am in awe of the tree’s age, height and heritage and with every mark I made over the hours of drawing this beautiful specimen, my relationship with the spirit of the tree deepened. Whilst this is not a photographic representation, through distorting the image, I wanted to express its grandeur and the sense of looking up into its branches to the sky beyond.
Zoe Haynes-Smith 'Tree Medicine'
Folded digital print, 60 x 60 cm Urban Forest ID: 1019524 Tree Medicine pays homage to the magnificent trees that surround the hospitals of Melbourne. Trees have many benefits both for the mental and physical well-being of everyone. Magical in their ability to extend a healing presence, not only to the patients but also those who live and work in Melbourne. Nature, particularly a view of trees, is known to help hospital patients recover faster by reducing blood pressure and stress. Studies found that just 3-5 minutes spent looking at nature can help reduce anger, anxiety and even pain. In these times of unpredictable weather changes, it is more important than ever to preserve and protect the trees around Melbourne. As the oldest living life-forms on earth, trees are an essential component of creating, protecting and nurturing life upon this planet. The transition of seasons that occurs within the piece illustrates the powerful energy that trees have and demonstrates how even the slightest change of perspective can create great transformation and healing. Once observed, a deeper message of hope is imparted, encouraging all to make even the smallest change in their daily habits to help reverse the harmful effects that climate change is having on our planet.
Heather Hesterman 'Gingko I'
Screenprint with ink made from gingko leaves on BFK Arches paper Edition: 3/3 (additionally, there are 5 Unique States available) 38.5 x 28.2 cm unframed Urban Forest ID: 1039927 The Gingko Tree is considered a rare fossil, a species virtually unchanged from the Jurassic period, with deciduous fan-shaped leaves. Gingko biloba is commonly known as the Maidenhair Tree. Placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, the ginkgo is considered endangered and is important both culturally and horticulturally. This species requires thousands of years to adapt and evolve, not decades, as warming temperatures due to climate change contribute to increased tree morbidity across forests worldwide. The Gingko in Flagstaff gardens, asset ID# 1039927 on the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Map, is a tree of significance, notably a mature specimen, second to the first Maidenhair tree planted in the Geelong Botanical Gardens in 1859. In the spirit of the hundreds of email correspondences received and some answered by the Urban Forest & Ecology Team, this artwork incorporates a printed letter of admiration to the Gingko Tree. Information was once exchanged, disseminated, and recorded for prosperity through handwritten letters, diaries, printed books, and newspapers before the digital age. Handmade gestures are evident in this artwork, from the forming of individual letters and drawing of lines to collecting autumnal ginkgo leaves that produced frottages, assembled and arranged, to create film positives. Mixing inks, tearing paper down to size and screenprinting involves many hand actions, multiplied and varied, each articulating technical processes of art making. These modes reverberate with the repetitive hand actions of gardening, pruning, weeding, raking fallen leaves, and attending carefully to plants. Art and gardening share the nuances of touch, employing fine and gross motor skills. Gingko leaves and bark allegedly have specific medicinal properties. In Tree Project: Gingko I, the tree’s materiality becomes part of the artefact with ink derived from leaves and stems. As the words, ink, and leaves enmesh in this artwork, does the future of Gingko biloba exist only in written and pictorial forms, or will this unique tree species survive another 100 million years?
Bridget Hillebrand 'Traces'
Linocut and chalk on kozo paper 120 x 65 x 5 cm Urban forest ID: 1033636 At the base of the stairs that leads to Queen Victoria Gardens from St Kilda Road, stands a majestic, mature Corymbia citriodora (Lemon-scented gum). Its graceful crown of lemon-scented foliage has attracted native birds and pollinators to Melbourne’s urban streets for decades. Native to north-eastern Australia, its striking tall trunk and bark – smooth, powdery white, has always engaged my attention on city walks. ‘Traces’ reflects on the unique ephemeral tone, pattern and texture of the bark of this particular Corymbia citriodora. I replicated the markings by carefully tracing a section of the trunk and transferring the image onto a lino block. Just as the surface of the tree varies, the natural imperfections of the printed kozo paper reveals the subtleties in fibre, tone and texture. English mathematician Charles Babbage marvelled at how tree rings record information about climate through time—my work reflects on the changing surface of the Lemon-scented gum’s ‘woody fabric’. As Babbage wrote, “Every shower that falls, every change of temperature that occurs, and every wind that blows, leaves on the vegetable world the traces of its passage.” 1 1. Babbage, Charles, The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise: A Fragment. London: J. Murray, 1837, p.258.
Kathy Holowko and Sarah Moore 'Drawing Tree'
100% recycled cotton paper and markers, 30 x 30 cm Urban Forest ID:1050979 Many years ago Kathy Holowko and Sarah Moore studied sculpture together, and as students made a series of ‘tree drawings’ harnessing the anthropomorphic artistry of trees. This new series of tree drawings have been made in response to the Urban Forest Project. They are not drawings OF a tree, but rather drawings FROM a tree. There is a stand of large sugar gums that were planted in the early days of colonisation that have become regular companions on morning walks through Royal Park. It seems remarkable that they only became visible after recent understory planting occurred as part of the Urban Forest Project. They run alongside the railway line on the edges and margins of the park that so often are the places of refuge for nature in urban environments. We gave the trees and the wind agency, markers and paper – recording the movement of the branches in the climatic atmosphere of a day. We have observed natural tree drawings in dirt or sand, on low growing branches where the wind or rain would sweep it away and present a new canvas the following day. These arboreal scribblings can be viewed as note taking, or even scientific calculations where knowledge of climatic conditions inform a response for success and survival. This is where we can learn from drawing trees. We would like to thank our collaborator Sugar gum Tree ID 1050979
Linda Judge 'Birrarung Marr'
Acrylic on plastic, 80 x120 cm Urban Forest ID: 1455144 The work imagines the area around Birrarung Marr before its development as Melbourne’s central transport hub in 1856. The river red gums which are sporadic along this part of the Yarra river were once dense, using their extensive root system to collect water even in times of drought. This work is painted on a surface made from bread tags, and reflects on a landscape that has been tainted by microplastics. It draws attention to the ways in which tributary rivers like the Yarra feed into the ocean contributing to the global problem of marine microplastics and their effect on the food chain.
Todd Johnson '3 weeks, 2 days, 8 hours'
Archival Pigment Print from Slide Film 85 x 85cm Urban Forest ID: 1030629 This photograph documents a Quercus English Oak tree positioned along the Yarra River in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. It was shot on expired slide film and later submerged in river water, tree sap, and detritus found on site. Gradually, the film became malleable, as the minerals, bacteria and pollution of the water slowly disintegrated the medium itself. After the film was left outside to dry, bacteria and insects continued to eat away the film, demolishing the pictorial, and freeing the photo-object from the burden of depiction. In this photograph, elements of the landscape perform as an active collaborator or co-agent, rather than a merely passive subject alone. Through spatio-temporal abstraction, 3 weeks, 2 days, 8 hours investigates the inherent disorder, chaos, turmoil and beauty of nature; qualities reflected in the work itself.
Martin King 'tree of life, diary of lost souls in twenty volumes No.1'
Etching, drypoint, spitbite, chine-collé, hard-cover books, frame 120 x 112 cm I have chosen to work within the Fitzroy Gardens, a location I have spent much time wandering, pondering and passing through, actively and passively! I have concentrated on two trees, Corymbia, Lemon Scented Gum, (tree ID: 1040279) and Fraxinus, English Ash, (tree ID: 1040597) in the NE and E part of the gardens. The work brings these mature trees together, a hypothetical hybrid, half Gum, half Ash. My interest is in the gardens is as a site and haven for urban wildlife. The work is an etching of the trees, the right-hand side of the work is the Gum, the left-hand side, the Ash. It is presented as a series of hardcover books laid out as double page spreads, which will reveal the splendour of both trees. Embedded within the etching are pages from the diary of John Cotton (1802-1849), a naturalist and pastoralist in Victoria. His journals are beautifully illustrated with bird species found in the Port Phillip region at time the Fitzroy gardens were founded. My work is a reflection of habitats and the species that inhabit them, past and present. My hope is that the Fitzroy Gardens and the significant initiative of the City of Melbourne Urban Forest, will continue to support a site and haven for wildlife and plant biodiversity into the future.
Zahra Marsous Light, Shadow & The Pine Tree 1, 2 & 3
Ink on Paper Ea 42 x 29.5 cm It was 8 in the morning. It was cool with soft breezing. Dawn mist was still there. Breath of dew, earth and flora spreading. It was 9 AM. Clouds crossing over and birds singing. It was 10 AM. Youngsters’ songs of joy were rolling in the air. Sound of flipping papers of the book, whispering bypassers on grass. 11 o’clock, 12, 1,… He was there aye. Listening, feeling and watching heartfully. Listening to chitchats, going along joys, according with griefs, and keeping patient with rages. He has seen and heard much and lived a manifold life.
Susie Lachal 'environmental justice'
Bronze, Edition: 1/5 26 x 26 x 26 cm This bronze sculpture pays homage to the elm standing among its sentinel species, ninth from the Swan St bridge on the south side of the Yarra away from the city. The tree was planted by colonial settlers to mold their new environment to something more familiar. This was an expression of man’s domination over nature, a product of enlightenment thinking. The tree shed twigs and small branches during strong winds in May and June that were collected from its base. This elm is over 100 years old and has grown strong and tall entangling with other living and non-living things – indigenous and introduced – to develop a vibrant microenvironment of relational engagements. An act of relational engagement such as this between humans and non-humans denies environmental justice. The term ‘justice’ is used to assert the need for value to be placed on all things, living and non-living. This structure of value is a legacy of colonialism and is central to the argument for the need to reduce anthropocentrism. Justice occurs in the attribution of value by humans, toward all things. By valuing things in and of themselves humans may come to realise how entangled they, and all things, truly are. By transitioning toward environmental justice humans may tend to reduce their anthropocentric perspectives. Inspired by geometric structures in nature the collected twigs were cut into 8cm lengths of roughly three different diameters. Using hot glue and wax a cube was created with the twigs of largest diameter. Six additional cubes were added to the original cube, one to each face. The out reaching arms extending from the original cube utilised the medium sized diameter twigs. And the outward facing squares that completed the six cubes were constructed from the smallest diameter twigs. To honour this elm tree the twig sculpture was cast using the lost wax/twig method. Within colonial values, a bronze sculpture attributes recognition to the bronzee and memorializes the contribution they have made in the world. The resultant object has the potential to open discussion around more equitable relations toward greater environmental justice.
Nancy Liang 'Ginkgo Tree'
Mixed media, digital and hand collage Printed on ‘Canson Infinity Photoart Pro Canvas 395gsm, 1/1 signed 40 x 100 cm Urban Forest ID: 1065393 I follow the mysterious cobble-stoned lane that leads to the Ginkgo Tree A mythical beast – Face unchanged to developing civilisation and its influences, it appears as it does more than 200 million years ago Branches don golden wings during the Autumn, Fanned feathers that fall slowly Creating a pond of gold. ‘Ginkgo Tree’ draws upon the role of trees and how it is closely tied to the human experience – in this case the artist’s memory of meeting the Ginkgo Tree at Cohen Place. We often use trees as pillars: to seek solace in times of respite or as symbols to relate to our experiences and emotions. This idea taps into the spirit of traditional Chinese landscape paintings (‘shan shui’) where the manner in which artists expressed nature revealed much about themselves. They hold the natural world in deep reverence, knowing that connectivity to the land is intrinsic to expressing their inner-self.
Jan McLellan Rizzo ‘Golden Elm in wild Spring winds’
Charcoal and conte crayon on Fabriano drawing paper 120 x 150cm Box 1: ‘Birrarung, river of mists and shadows’. Wooden box, card, papers, cellophane Box 2: ‘Golden Elm a huge heart’ Wooden box and found objects, 562cm strip of Fabriano drawing paper Box 3: ‘Future plantings’, Wooden box, map, text on drafting paper, burnt cards Each box 13 x 36cm Urban Forest ID: 1028612 Golden Elm on the corner of Alexandra Ave. and Punt Rd. in South Yarra. It’s extraordinary that this beautiful tree, planted in 1900, has survived on such a busy corner beside the river. I’ve looked out for it my whole life and I decided long ago that it has a generous heart. The Melbourne City Council website nominates the tree’s diameter ‘at breast height’. I love this definition, because the breast is where the heart is. My drawing was made over several weeks of visits to sketch and take photos, always with the unsettling realisation that wild winds were blowing apart the new growth, flattening the green leaves of the bulbs as soon as they started to fill the ground under the tree. As I began to work on my drawing, its mood changed as if to reflect my unease. Research provided information about the history of the land on which the elm tree grows. The accompanying three installation boxes honour the history of this site and suggest its future. The first box recognises the past trees that grew along a glorious Birrarung,”the river of mists and shadows” for 60,000 years. Included are images of the fish and eels that lived in the clear water before European settlement. The second box pays homage to the beautiful Elm tree, a source of oxygen and Summer shade, a home for wildlife, a green refuge for picnics especially when the ground is blanketed with bluebells in early Spring. Included in the box is a rubbing of the huge circumference (562cm) of the Elm, on a strip of Fabriano drawing paper the width of an ECG printout. The Elm was planted in 1900, the same year my tiny doll’s house cup and saucer were created. So they are included to symbolise all the sustaining moments of reflection, celebration and hospitality under the extended boughs of this generous tree. The third box reflects on the future, now close at hand, when the Elm tree won’t survive and the listed plantings may stand a better chance of survival in the temperature increases due to Climate Change. All we know and love is at risk and the children of the world deserve better than political and community apathy or an existential numbness.
Jarrad Martyn 'Hilltop'
Oil on canvas, 100 x 89 cm Urban Forest ID: 1039833 ‘Hilltop’ explores the function of trees used as sites to support local flora and fauna. I walk through Flagstaff Gardens multiple times each week. When I walk late at night, I regularly see possums interacting with each other whilst navigating the trees. Given the central location of the park, and having only recently moved to Melbourne, I’m often taken aback at seeing large marsupials successfully thriving in the CBD. ‘Hilltop’ depicts a Common Brushtail Possum at the base of a mature Cedrus Deodar, located in Flagstaff Gardens in West Melbourne. In ‘Hilltop’ the tree’s size is impressive – symbolising its power and importance, dominating the composition, acting as a landmark. The Possum is situated at the base of the trees trunk, dwarfed by the immense tree. The scene slips between night and dusk, highlighting two different functions of the tree to the Possum – that as a home during the day, and it’s play and hunting ground at night. Overlaid on the scene are patches of translucent and saturated colours. These arrangements stem from weather forecast graphics. These patterns are sourced from a map depicting contrasting weather conditions experienced in Melbourne. One represents the December 2019 Brushfire Heat Wave, and the other reflecting the yearly average or ‘expected’ weather conditions. The contrast between ‘normal’ and extreme, combined with the otherworldliness created by the painting stylisation encourages the viewer to consider how the climate is changing and what effect this may have on the local flora and fauna.
Julia Schmitt 'Olderfleet, London Plane Trees'
Archival fine liner pen on canvas paper 32 x 24cm Urban Forest IDs: 1024618, 1024619, 1024620. I have always wanted to draw the Olderfleet building at the Southern Cross end of Collins Street but have felt hamstrung by the plane trees obscuring the facade. For this exhibition I have instead embraced drawing them as foreground figures rather than trying to omit them. In doing so I realised the plane trees are integral to the grandeur of the building.
Benedict Sibley ‘Citriodora’
Compressed charcoal on Arches 102.5 x 78.5 cm Lemon Scented Gum, Urban Forest Tree ID: 1022037 The tree I have chosen is a Lemon Scented Gum, Corymbia citriodora, planted in 1900 or earlier. This Corymbia citriodora is one of a pair of two magnificent mature street trees which act as sentries to the entrance of the city from the North. The individual I have chosen is the smaller, more muscular and wrinkled of the two, but the one that always catches my eye. Located in the centre of an incredibly busy traffic island at the very top of Swanston Street, these two white trunked giants flank Cemetery Road East, a thoroughfare that discharges the bulk of traffic from the Eastern Freeway via Princess Street and Alexandra Parade. I have been aware of these two trees for decades. Whenever I am commuting through the area, either by foot, bike or car, I can’t not notice them. Once installed in the memory, these trees take on more permanence than anything else in their proximity. When I am in their presence I can unsee the urban world that surrounds them.
Barbara Wheeler 'The Stick Report'
Pigment Inkjet Photograph on Cotton Rag Paper 101 x 101cm —– Angophora costata – Royal Park near Walmsley House The Stick Report is a communique from the Eucalyptus nation. Its message is that we are interconnected. Through this report we learn about some of the colours Eucalypts give to cloth and fibres and we are gently encouraged to consider creative collaboration with our ancient trees. The sticks are mostly Angophora costata (generally regarded as a gum tree) wrapped in silk and wool threads that have been botanically dyed with Angophora costata leaves. The inspiration for this work is an Angophora costata growing in the Royal Park near Walmsley House. Angophora costata are graceful, angular, pink and rusty coloured, with bark that crinkles, just like our skin wrinkles with age – they stand out wherever they grow. They also drop a lot of sticks, a characteristic disliked by gardeners in public parks who prefer their green sword of grass to be uninterrupted by dustings of Eucalyptus sticks and leaves. I believe that Angophora costata growing in public places lend their charisma to that place. They claim our gaze because we love beauty and because we are grateful when we encounter it, even if we don’t understand it. The Stick Report is a coded message about the unexpected benefits of intimate dialogue with the natural world when we engage our senses and listen, observe, smell and practice a light touch.