New Project: Keeping the Trees Safe

It’s April 2018 and I’m looking forward to working again with Olivia and David Hackett (and now also with my colleague Conor Buckley). Our new project is centred around the Oregon Maples in Front Square, but it will have consequences for all the big trees on the campus. David and his team are constantly keeping an eye on the trees to make sure they are safe and won’t fall down in the next storm. The risk assessments they do are difficult and require a lot of expertise; these days they get help from some high-tech scanning equipment called sonic tomography, which can literally “see” inside a tree. I hope to help them by using engineering computer software to make simulations of the trees to predict how strong they are and how they might fail. The software is called Finite Element Analysis. We already applied the same methods to something very different – predicting the strength of exoskeletons in insects and crabs. So here goes!

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Reintroducing Olivia Hassett


Olivia Hassett’s art practice is interdisciplinary and frequently collaborative, realised through site specific sculptural installations and live performances. These installations and live works draw directly from Hassett’s preoccupation with metaphorical and phenomenological notions of skin as a porous, liminal boundary between public and private aspects of the human body.

Central to Hassett’s ongoing exploration of the visceral body and it’s propensity to be simultaneously grotesque and sublime is her interest in an expanded notion of skin, beyond that of abjection and binaries; inside / outside, public / private, male / female, hard / soft, but as a threshold that is continuously shifting and morphing. Hassett’s practice focuses on developing work that is openly provisional and allows movement back and forth along these edges exploring the unknown and creating a space for transformation.

Olivia Hassett Untitled Details.jpg

Olivia Hassett completed a Masters of Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 2012. Hassett is the inaugural artist in residence in the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Department of Trinity College Dublin. In 2015 Olivia Hassett and Professor David Taylor hosted Endo/ Exo, an exhibition of their collaborative project in Trinity College Dublin. Other one person shows include; In | Between, deAppendix, Dublin, 2014 (part of a three month residency), Somatic reassemblage, Newbridge Arts Centre, January 2014 and Anamorph, Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford, June 2013. Recent solo performances include Screened I, MART, Dublin, 2015 and Screened II, PAB Bergen, Norway, 2015. Olivia Hassett was awarded an artists bursary from the South Dublin County Council in 2014.

Reintroducing David Hackett


David Hackett first qualified in amenity Horticulture in 1979 and 1980 through the National Botanic gardens , Glasnevin , Dublin and the RHS. He also holds various work associated qualifications eg. Chainsaw certified, telescopic handler certified.

In 2006 he was awarded advanced qualifications with the Royal Horticultural society .

His specialism is in turf culture [Grass] and trees and he currently hold a tree risk assessment from the International Society of Arborists.

Employment has range from working in garden centres, commercial fruit and vegetable production, indoor pot plant production and for the Parks department of Dun Laoghaire corporation for thirteen years. He has been employed on the Trinity College grounds staff for the past twenty four years.

He is one of the editors of the Trees of Trinity College Dublin publication: ISBN 978-1871408737

Thank you to Clodagh Dooley


The Trinity College Trees team would like to say thank you to Dr. Clodagh Dooley for all her amazing work with us on last years project.  Clodagh was a Researcher in Residence in The Advanced Microscopy Laboratory (AML) which is a part of CRANN (Centre for Research in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology) and the AMBER centre (Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research).  We have Clodagh to thank for all the amazing microscope images taken last year.

Clodagh was due to keep working with us this year but has been head hunted by the forensic lab in Phoenix Park.  We are really sorry to lose her from our team but are delighted and wish her all the best with her new career!

Reintroducing David Taylor


David Taylor holds the position of Professor of Materials Engineering at Trinity College. His field of expertise is Biomedical Engineering: the application of scientific principles to the study of the human body.

His research work aims to understand how Nature has evolved materials for structural purposes and to learn from Nature in the development of new engineering solutions.

His research interests include failure analysis of engineering materials and components. Component design and materials selection. Forensic engineering. Bioengineering, especially the strength and fracture of medical devices, bone and other body tissues.

Introducing the team – Conor Buckley

Conor Buckley is an Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Trinity College Dublin. His current research focuses on developing naturally derived biomaterials and cell based strategies for tissue regeneration and bioprinting applications.


In 2016, he launched Med3DP (, an initiative to develop medical devices for humanitarian healthcare using 3D printing technology and biodegradable materials. Conor’s interest in “The Oregon Maple” project is to assist Olivia apply the wonderful science of natural materials and bioplastics to help “make visible the invisible” in an artistic and inspiring form.

About this blog

This blog celebrates a specific selection of the stunning selection of Trees in Trinity College Dublin.

Early in January of this year the Trinity College Trees team in conjunction with Dr. Conor Buckley of TCD initiated a new study on the two large Oregon Maple trees in College Square.   This 2018 project will build on the research and success of their 2017 project, which involved eight tress (including one of the Oregon Maples in the 2018 project) on the Trinity College Dublin campus.

This blog aims to outlines the conservation, scientific and artistic development and outcomes from both the 2017 and 2018 projects.

The Trinity College Trees Team are tree specialist (David Hackett), scientist (Prof. David Taylor), microscope expert (Dr. Clodagh Dooley), bioplastic specialist (Dr. Conor Buckley) and artist (Olivia Hassett) all based in Trinity College Dublin.

The team aim to make visible fascinating microscopic elements of the trees. This will allow for an unique way of engaging with the trees in an urban setting.

In 2017 in response to the research and microscopic imagery collected the artist created of a series of innovative art works, which were installed in eight trees throughout the campus. This exhibition launched in September 2017 and was supported by a self guided walk with a supporting audio piece that offered detailed information on each tree and the inspiration behind the installed artworks.

For the 2018 project the team propose to undertake a programme of scientific and arboreal sampling and tests to explore the structural integrity of the two majestic but fragile Oregon Maple Trees in College Square.  Proposed artistic responses will include a months display of new artworks installed in both trees, live performance and indoor exhibition on the TCD campus.