By Neville Gabie, located 2001
This project resulted from a Year of the Artists residency undertaken by Neville Gabie in the autumn 2000 and spring/summer of 2001. It was realised with the financial assistance of South West Arts, the Forestry Commission and Arnolfini Collection Trust and the co-ordination by Bruce Allan and Samantha Wilkinson. The project was built upon a permanent work which sees the volume of a tree represented in a variety of states – as a permanent installation in the forest – alongside four event based pieces that were documented and presented in printed form.
The Permanent Work: What you see on the Sculpture Trail today is evidence of how a work such as Raw responds to the forest environment. In summer Raw manifests itself as a golden wooden cube, teeming with insects that take up residence for the warm months of the year. In the winter the wood darkens in tone, soaking up the moisture in the air and becoming a perfect environment on which lichen, fungi and moulds can grow. Much like the oak tree from which it was made, this sculpture has its own mini-eco system and supports many living things.
Nearby in the open glade, which had previously been sheltered by the canopy of the oak, the stump from where it was cut sits, of little significance now except as an indicator of what it once had been – a seat on which to sit and ponder how Raw came to be.
In Gabies own words:
”Last year whilst walking around the forest I noticed a group of trees marked with white lines. In conversation with a forester I was told that these trees were measured annually to calculate their volume and rate of growth.
How would you calculate the volume of so random a form as a tree?
What would that volume look like if you changed its shape?
Could you cube up a whole tree, trunk and branches from the largest size to the smallest one cut?
What space would its absence create in the canopy and were there indeed other ways of measuring or considering the trees dimensions?
A desire to answer some of these questions was the basis of the work.”
Raw = 1 oak tree: planted 1810, felled 2001
The proposal: A tree’s mass represented as a cube in the forest – working with a tree surgeon I will convert the whole volume of the tree into cubes and install it in the forest as one large cube.
Four temporary pieces
1. a measurement of the total degradable volume of the tree which is measured and represented as a hole cut into the ground. – the hole may be documented in advance of the YOTA week or on show – this is to be confirmed in the context of health and safety
2. a measure of the calorific value of the timber in the tree which will be turned into light
3. a measure of how much water this tree would draw from the ground in a given period. The temporary work would be a photograph of the water being dropped over the forest.
4. a measure of the amount of oxygen this tree would convert in a given period. The temporary work would be an inflated large purpose made bag.
The temporary pieces together would represent the volume of the tree measured in the four elements, earth, air, water and fire.”