Avenue, a site-specific installation consisting of silver poplar suckers spaced equidistantly along a corridor at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, was motivated primarily by a desire to insert a natural element into a space otherwise devoid of nature. This act was intended to appeal to people’s innate attraction to plants, a condition known as biophilia.
Floating the ‘trees’ contributed to an unexpected encounter, whilst also allowing glimpses of greenery above partition walls. I also hoped that the surprise of this experience could prompt a reconsideration of relationships between nature and the built environment.
‘Planted’ in small, clear, water filled plastic bags, roots can be seen gradually emerging from the suckers, a fecund sign that demonstrates life’s tendency to persevere even under duress. The growth of roots necessitates more frequent artificial interventions to replenish the water, creating an ironic situation where growth accelerates death – a form of arboreal suicide. More generally (in an analogy to the miner’s canary) the inexorable decay of these trees could be seen as a comment on the suitability – or otherwise – of buildings for human occupation, where spaces are devoid of natural light and the atmosphere is artificially conditioned.