Launch 28th March

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Following on from the success of the collaborative art installation in eight trees on the TCD campus in 2017 the Trinity College Trees Team* are delighted to announce the opening of their newest collaborative exhibition embrittled | resilient

Open to the public during normal business hours April 1st – May 3rd 2019 this exhibition will launch with a series of events on Thursday 28th March.

  • 17.30 pm meet in the Museum Building (follow signs as the front door may be closed) to view the exhibition. David Taylor, David Hackett and Tim Hone will give a short introduction to some of the scientific and conservation information on display.
  • 18.00 pm meet in the Parsons Building to view the exhibition.
  • 18.15 pm solo art performance by Olivia Hassett beside the Oregon Maple outside the Parsons Building
  • 18.30 pm refreshments will be available in foyer area of the Parsons building.

Initially the the two 170 year old majestic Oregon Maples in Library Square were the focus of this exhibition until one fell and the other had to be cut down. One of the two remaining Oregon Maples, descendant from the fallen trees and also sited on campus, became the new focus for the project.

Embrittled | resilient will focus on factors which affect the strength and conservation of the trees, including water, wind and age. Located in both the Museum and Parsons buildings the exhibition will comprise of a mixture of art works, scientific research and information about the conservation of the Maples.

For more information on the 2017 and 2019 projects and exhibitions please visit trinitycollegetrees.wordpress.com Contact email: oliviahassett@gmail.com.

*Trinity College Trees Team: David Hackett, Olivia Hassett, David Taylor.

Consultants: Conor Buckley, Colin Reid and Tim Hone.

This project and exhibition was funded by the Trinity College Performing Arts Grant.

TCD Trees 2019 Press Release

Water retaining gel crystals – art material

The research focus of this project changed after the demise of the two majestic Oregon Maples in Library Square. Where the heartwood (the innermost part of the tree trunk) should have held up to about 80% water after testing the water content was estimated to be nearer 50%.

And so my artistic research expanded from the strength and stability of the trees, which was the primary focus for the Oregon Maple artwork for Trinity College 2017 exhibition. The 2017 piece focused on the cable bracing system and the internal cellular structure of the tree. The final artworks likened tendon-like structures using the lines of the cable system stretching between various limbs of one of the Oregon Maples.

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Back to the 2018/19 project. Since the two older trees fell I have been focusing my art research on water. Having used water retaining gel in past artworks I again began to look at this interesting material as a suitable one for inclusion in the 2019 exhibition.

Normally this material is added to the soil around plants and trees during spells of dry weather. It comes in crystal format and after adding water it can expand and hold over 300/400 times its weight in water. Over time the gel loses this water gradually (watering the plants in the process) until all the water is gone and it again returns to it’s crystal form…until it rains again and the gel swells with water again. This process can be repeated numerous times. Manufacturers claim that these gels work for about three years.

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In actual fact David Hackett during one of our meeting mentioned that this material might be one that they might need to consider going forward to ensure constant watering of trees during periods of low rainwater. He suggested that they would add the water retaining gel to the soil around targeted trees and that then they would add grey water (collected rain water run off from the buildings on campus) to the gel from time to time as necessary.

In the past I have incorporated water retaining gel into some of my indoor installations, subverting it’s purpose to suit a new function. I was particularly interested in how the engorged gel looked almost like chunks of glass yet also managed to be very visceral in how it felt and sounded when squished.

In one particular instance during 2011 for a group exhibition I constructed a raised walkway in a small intimate room in an abandoned building on Francis Street, Dublin 2. I covered this walkway in expanded water retaining gel and then walked really really slowly along its surface during a live performance. The audience were seated, their eye level at my foot height, the sight and sounds accentuated by their closeness and the intimate nature of the room.

For the purpose of the Trinity College Trees 2019 exhibition I will be using this material much more as it was intended to be used. It will form a large part of the opening live art performance and will remain as part of an outdoor installation throughout the duration of the exhibition.

I can’t say much more for now, but I will post images of the performance afterwards for those of you who won’t be able to be at the live event.

TCD search for replacements for fallen Oregon Maples

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During a recent computer search I came across this article written by Peter Kelly of Trinity News.  I thought it would be interesting to share it with you all.  I have included a few images that I thought might be relevant to the article. 

Trinity has begun its search for new Library Square trees to replace the Oregon maples previously in Library Square, according to Estates and Facilities. College hopes that any new tree will last for 100 to 150 years, and “look good too in that space over that time”.

The search for new trees comes in the wake of Library Square’s Oregon maple tree unexpectedly falling down earlier this summer. A second Oregon maple was removed shortly afterwards due to fears of it also falling.

Speaking to Trinity News, a spokesperson for Estates and Facilities explained that Trinity is “at the start of trying to look for replacements for the fallen trees”. It is currently unclear how long this process will take.

The first step in replacing the trees is to survey the underground area at the site of the fallen trees. According to Estates and Facilities, this investigation is taking place through the use of “ground penetrating radar”.

Estates and Facilities are considering the potential impact of climate change on any new trees, noting that they “needed to consider whether replanting with the same species as fell down (Oregon Maples) is the best choice or not as Dublin may become unsuitable as a habitat for that species”.

Should College decide to plant new Oregon maples, Estates and Facilities told Trinity News that they currently have a few small seedlings of the maples growing which may be suitable for use.

Following the collapse of College’s famous Oregon maple earlier this summer, College made the decision to cut down the second tree over fears of another collapse.

Speaking to Trinity News, Trinity’s Professor of Mechanical Engineering David Taylor explained that internal scanning of the trees a few weeks prior to the initial fall had revealed one of the trees “was getting hollow quite quickly.”

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The science of this is that basically a tree will fall if the stress in the wood gets too high, so the wood breaks,” Taylor explained. “That can happen to a normal tree if there’s a very bad storm, but if the wood in the tree is gradually getting weaker then you can reach a point where even a mild storm, or even just the weight of the tree itself, can be enough to cause the wood to fail and bring the whole thing down.”

2016/17 Trinity College Trees Project

Trinity Trees Team 2 at PROBE at TCD

The 2016/17 Trinity College Trees Project, Making Visible the Invisible, celebrated scientific, conservation and artistic research into the physiology of eight trees situated on the main campus of Trinity College Dublin.

Over a period of eighteen months TCD staff  Professor David Taylor,  David Hackett,  Clodagh Dooley and Olivia Hassett meet regularly to collaborate on this ambitious project. Two sets of Scanning Electron microscopic sampling and imaging were undertaken to reflect the changing seasons and conditions during the project.

In response to the collaborative research and microscopic imagery collected the artist created a series of site specific innovative art works, which were installed in the eight trees throughout the campus. A series of performances by Hassett with the Oregon Maple in the main square formed part of PROBE European Researchers night event September 29th 2017 launching the exhibition to much acclaim.

The Trinity College Trees exhibition was supported by a series of guided walks while also offering a self guided walk and supporting audio piece detailing information on each tree and the inspiration behind the installed artworks.

This blog outlines the project background information, research and inspiration behind these works.

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Belated farewell to 170 year old Maple

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Image taken of the Oregon Maple

One of the oldest trees in Trinity College Dublin collapsed early on the 2nd of June 2018.

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The large Oregon Maple was and it’s sister tree opposite is one of the largest specimens of Oregon Maples to be found in Ireland or Britain. Both Maples graced the front square in Trinity College Dublin since the 1840’s.

In 2017 this tree was one of eight that were chosen to be investigated by the Trinity College Trees Team. The Oregon Maple not only formed part of the subsequent exhibition in October 2017 but was the subject matter of my performance during the exhibition opening night, which also formed part of the TCD and Science Gallery organised PROBE event.

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Images taken during the installation of the Oregon Maple artwork, part of the Trinity College Trees Exhibition October 2017.

I was informed of the demise of the Maple beside the Henry Moore sculpture while boarding a plane to South Africa via London. There was scant information at this point as to why this tree had fallen that night. Both trees had weathered Ireland’s recent storm Emma and hurricane Ophelia in 2017.

In fact there were numerous ongoing tests and safety assessments done by the diligent grounds staff and specialist contractors to asses both trees’ viability, the most recent taken about two months prior to the tree collapse. The surveys did show that both trees were diseased, the one that still stands more so than the one that fell. The tree experts estimated that the tree would definitely not be around in forty years time and regular testing of the trees was recommended.

It was a shock to all students, staff and the general public when the news of the tree’s collapse became known to all. None more to me as I boarded numerous planes to South Africa only returning a week ago. Numerous times I thought and spoke of the fallen tree to my family. I felt a deep sadness that such a majestic enormous seemingly invincible tree had collapsed under it’s own weight.

As I was incommunicado for such a long time I was unable to visit Trinity College until the middle of last week. I heard there had been a huge outpouring on social media and I visited the twitter page, which was alight for days after the collapse with numerous comments of sadness, many past students, staff and the general public sharing photographs and memories relating to the tree. Numerous articles also appeared online and in the newspapers.

During my visit to Trinity College last week it really brought it home to me how huge this tree was and the enormity of the empty void where the tree had stood for so long. See below an image of the tree stump surrounded by patchy damaged grass. In the background it’s sister tree stands alone now. All are aware that this tree is now in a very precarious position, especially due to Ireland’s ongoing drought making the less flexible due to a low water content. I decided to take a photo of the remaining Oregon Maple as I know a decision on it’s fate will be taken soon.

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As to the future direction of the 2018 Trinity College Trees project who’s focus is solely on these two Oregon Maples it is a little up in the air at the moment. The scientific and artistic premises for the project still remain valid but the resultant artwork concepts must now be revisited, revised and be flexible enough to respond to the fragility and shifting nature of the stories of these two trees and their place in this world.

Thank you to Clodagh Dooley

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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!

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.