Mooney Goes Wild rescheduled to air this Sunday 5th of November at 22.00


Due to unforeseen circumstances RTE Radio 1’s Mooney Goes Wild team had to reschedule the interview with the Trinity Trees Exhibition team. The interview will air instead this Sunday 5th of November between 22.00 and 23.00.

Tune in to hear each of the Trinity College Trees team talking about their areas of expertise all of which came together to produce the exhibition currently on display in Trinity College Dublin until the 12th of November 2017.

Installed artworks: Day 8 – The Yew Tree

yew tree with red berriesThe evergreen Yew with its dark green, needle-like leaves and red berries are toxic to humans and as a result they were identified as the trees of death but were also seen as a symbol of the transcendence of death due to their longevity. The project team were particularly interested in the Yew tree because of the fact that such a highly toxic tree also contained key medicinal components in the fight against various forms of cancer. Compounds found in the bark are nowadays manufactured chemically in the development of the Taxol drug.


To follow find images taken by Clodagh Dooley with the Scanning Electron Microscope.

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The final artwork is a hand etched representation of one of the wonderful images created by Dooley on a sheet of fluorescent yellow perspex.  See SEM image below.

3.782um max deviation

The artwork itself is to be found attached to the gates of the railings, which surround the triangular section of the physic garden. The artist chose the gate as the site to install the work because for her it symbolised the entrance and exit point along the boundary of the garden. This reflected her ongoing interest in engaging with notions of the skin as an in-between space between the inside and outside of the body, where skin pores play a vital role in excreting waste products and protecting against bacteria and pathogens. This is followed through in her interest in the breathing pores, the soma on the bark of the Yew tree, images of which were hand etched and drilled into a section of yellow perspex.  To follow are a selection of SEM images of these soma. 

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Also included in the artwork are sections of medical tubing filled with yellow paint, which trace through the drilled breathing holes and intertwine around each other. This is not unlike how the Yew tree’s trunk avoids succumbing to disease and splitting under the weight of advanced growth by growing upwards and twisting it’s root structure in and around itself for support.

yew tree twisted roots

Finally see below image of installed artwork.

Olivia Hassett Yew tree artwork lo res

Installed artworks: Day 7 – The Cherry Blossom Tree

IMAG5139David Hackett talking about the installed Cherry Blossom Tree artwork during the guided walk in September 2017

Most of the varieties of Cherry Blossoms have been cultivated for ornamental use and do not produce fruit. Along with the chrysanthemum, the cherry blossom is considered the national flower of Japan. Again the microscopic worlds of the trees form the backbone of this artwork. Hassett’s focus on scale and miniaturisation led her research to the arts forms of the Japanese Bonsai and Chinese Penjing.  See below some of the SEM images taken from the Cherry Blossom Tree.

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For this artwork Hassett chose to focus on the reproductive system of the Cherry Blossom, specifically the pollen grains. Pollen grains carry the male reproductive information and are unique in shape and pattering depending on the species.  See below SEM imagery taken by Clodagh Dooley of the  groups of and individual pollen grains.

In a nod to the millions of identical pollen grains to be found on the Cherry Blossom Hassett decided to create an artwork using multiples of the same material. Hundreds of recycled plastic net plant drainers were manipulated and grouped together not unlike how the the bonsai control and force huge number of flowers together to shape blocks of colour.

Alongside the white plastic netting Hassett also used neon pink and green wired Lycra netting for this artwork.  A huge thank you to Recreate who salvage large quantities of reusable materials from businesses for use in creative projects.  See images below of the installed artwork.

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Installed artworks: Day 6 – The Palm Tree

Cordyline Palm wide view lo res

The Palm Tree

Samples taken in February 2017 from a cross section of the Palm tree branch resulted in some fascinating Scanning Electron Microscopic images. Hassett was specifically interested in the circular bunching of cellular tubing.

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The Cordyline Palm, commonly known as the cabbage tree, is native to New Zealand. The artist was drawn to the mesmerising swaying of the flexible tree branches and the soft meditative sound created by the wind rustling through the leaves of the Cordyline Palm. Research led to Hassett to investigate Balinese Penjors (see image below), which are intricate sculptures made from curved bamboo poles and palm leaves and are used extensively during the Indonesian religious festival called Galungan.

bamboo & palm

Using the basic structure of the Penjor and a bamboo pole Hassett added fluorescent ribbon and electric blue sticky fabric to create the artwork that is installed beside the palm tree.

A key element of this artwork is the fluorescent orange drawings on the blue fabric shapes, which have been attached along the spine of the penjor. This imagery was inspired by microscopic photographs of the parallel veins of the palm as they are laid out in bundles and are arranged together to create the internal cellular structure of the branch.

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As is the tradition in Bali a decorative Sampian, a hanging feature, has been hung from the end of the Penjor artwork. It’s shape and form echo the oval shaped breathing holes (called soma) that lie in linear formations on the underside of the palm leaves.  See below imagery of breathing holes on the surface of the bark of the Palm tree.  Also included in this slide show are the image results from a second sampling programme of the underneath of the palm leaves by Clodagh Dooley.

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Finally to follow are some images taken of the Palm tree artwork installed in Trinity College Dublin.

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Installed artworks: Day 5 – The Crab Apple

The Crab Apple Tree

Crab Apple tree fruit norm view lo res

Image is of a intact crab apple and one that has been cut open ready to be imaged by the Scanning Electron Microscope

The artworks for the Crab Apple Tree were inspired by an early SEM image taken by Clodagh Dooley of the Advanced Microscope Laboratory (AML), Trinity College Dublin. See image below.

crab apple001 lo res

To follow see some of the other wonderful images captured by Dooley of samples taken from the Crab Apple tree.

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Each microscopic image taken for this project represents a snapshot in time for each leaf, branch and tree are in a constant state of change. For the crab apple tree artwork the artist decided to engage with this notion of time or more specifically the people that lingered in the Rose Garden between 12 noon and 2pm on Friday the 12th of May 2017. The resultant artwork reflects the mood and sentiments of ten willing participants who were resting in the intimate and peaceful surroundings of the Rose garden.

For the duration of the exhibition Hassett has installed ten red Fluorescent perspex pieces, which have been hung from various branches of the crab apple tree. The piece is reminiscent not only of rag trees where people tie ribbons around the branches of specific trees and ask for blessings but also trees of hope and remembrance. Together the ten pieces join together to represent an image taken of the dried out skin of the apple fruit (see above). Etched onto each Perspex element, in their own handwriting, is the participants response to the question ‘what do you think, feel about this space?’

To follow please find some images that represent the technical process of developing the perspex pieces.  Technical assistance from Ayelet Lalor was much appreciated.  

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On a bright Day at the end of September Derek and David Hackett helped me install the ten individual pieces, which were hung like ribbons from a rag tree.

Finally see below for some images of the ten perspex pieces installed in the Crab Apple Tree.

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Installed artworks: Day 4 – The Plane Trees

The Plane Tree artworks are installed in both trees.

OHassett Plane tree lo res

Close up photograph of one of the Plane Tree artworks.

An early sample programme from one of the plane trees uncovered some interesting irregular patterns in the cellular structure. As both trees are related and suffer from the same ongoing fungal infection contracted during their infancy this type of patterning is not unusual. See images below and David Taylor’s post on this topic.

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As the premise behind the artworks created by Hassett was to focus on the connection between the two plane trees, Clodagh Dooley harvested some samples from the second plane tree so we could compare and contrast the cellular patterns between the two trees.

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Hassett chose to make two replicas from one of the numerous large protruding nodules that form on the lower trunk. These nodules are regularly extruded from the tree as a result of the ongoing infection. Below are images taken of these nodules on the tree trunk.

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To create these artworks a two piece mould was taken of one of the fallen nodules and wax was poured into the mould to make the artworks.  See below a slide show of the many stages involved in the creation of the wax works.

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Interest in microscopic imagery of the haphazard cell structures from both infected barks led to the artist to include a representative pattern of cellular ‘holes’ in both wax works. To highlight their connection Hassett used imagery from the right tree in the artwork designed for the left and visa versa for the artwork installed in the right tree. See below SEM imagery that is represented in the artworks. 

In addition both wax pieces were deliberately installed opposite each other further heightening the connection and unique nature of these two trees. See images below.

Plane trees-Trinity College Trees-old tree

OHassett plane 2 lo res

The artist chose wax as the material for this piece because of it’s ability to transform in response to environmental factors i.e. The heat of the sun will warp the shape and alter the imagery carved into the wax nodules as infection has altered the normal cell structure of these two trees.

Finally to follow is a slide show with images of the two final pieces installed in the trees.

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Installed artworks: Day 3 – The Hop Hornbeam

The Hop Hornbeam artwork is installed

Ohassett Hop Hornbeam lo res

Close up photograph of the Snake Bark artwork.

An early sampling programme from the Snake Bark uncovered some fascinating finds by Clodagh Dooley.  See below a slide show highlighting some of the wonderful images taken by Dooley.

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From the outset of the project Hassett was drawn to the meaning behind the Hop Hornbeam’s Greek name Ostrua, which translates as “bone-like”, referring to its very hard wood.

Hassett decided to respond to the lumpy shape that snaked around the trunk; a direct result of the tree’s reaction to wind factors and it’s environment. For this artwork she created a corset-like protective covering for the protruding element on the trunk’s surface. Microscopic imagery of spiky thorn-like structures that were growing on the surface of the branches also informed the final artwork.  See images below.

There were many stages in the creation of the artwork for the Hop Hornbeam. From the initial low impact mould of the protruding element to the final installation there were many stages in the creation of the artwork for the Hop Hornbeam. The mould was taken to the studio so design trials could be made. A paper pattern was then created, the fabrics cut out and sewn together in sections. Finally long lengths of heavy wire were inserted into the various sections to support the shape of the overall artwork. Blue sticky fabric was added to accentuate these shapes and be representative of the microscopic spiky elements uncovered by Clodagh Dooley during the sampling process.  The slide show below includes some images of this lengths process.  

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The Hop Hornbeam artwork was installed in late September.  Images below were taken soon after the piece was installed.  

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This second group of images was taken on a very windy but sunny day post storm Ophelia.

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Installed artworks: Day 2 – The Snake Bark Tree

The Snake Bark artwork is installed

Snake bark lo res

Close up photograph of the Snake Bark artwork.

David Hackett taking sample with saw of Snake Bark Tree

   Image David Hackett taking a sample from the Snake Bark Tree, 2016.

An early sample programe from the Snake Bark uncovered some fascinating finds by Clodagh Dooley. See below

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Hassett was drawn in particular to Dooley’s beautiful images of the fungal fruiting body (pod like structure). See image below. 

7 snake bark bark007

Other images taken by Hassett with a normal camera also inspired her to create the final artwork that is currently installed in the Snake Bark Tree. See below some of the first photographs taken by Hassett, which show some of the soma/ breathing holes of the tree.

Imagery of the brightly coloured clothing combinations worn by select sub cultures in Japan during the 1990’s also played a part in the selection of the materials and colours for this piece. 

japanese street style

A close up photograph of detailing the of the SThe images below were taken after the art work was installed in the Snake Bark tree. 

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The following slide show includes installation images taken on a very windy but sunny day post storm Ophelia.

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Installed artworks: Day 1 – The Oregon Maple

The Oregon Maple was the most difficult piece to install.  See images above of both David Hackett and I in a Cherry Picker in the middle of the Oregon Maple tree about nine meters from the ground. We had to organise the Cherry Picker twice, once to reach the highest ‘tendon’ and the second time for the lower two. Of course we will also have to book it one final time to deinstall the pieces on the 29th of October.

Images below are photographs taken of the Oregon Maple artwork fully installed during the first week of the exhibition.

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The images below were take of the Oregon Maple artwork two weeks into the exhibition but before ex Hurricane Ophelia struck Ireland.

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I am glad to say the artwork survived the strong winds largely because of the stretchy nature of the fabric. I will post more images of how the artwork looks post Ophelia before the exhibition ends on October 29th.

Click on the following link to see the information, map and images that are to be found on the stand in front of the Oregon Maple.  Click here to see the Oregon Maple stand information