Exhibition open to the public until 3rd May 2019

Embrittled | Resilient is a collaborative science, art and conservation exhibition inspired by the majestic Oregon Maples of Trinity College Dublin. Spread over three venues on the main campus it opened to the public on the 28th of March 2019 with a series of talks by David Hackett, David Taylor, Tim Hone and Olivia Hassett outlining the background to their respective areas of research. Olivia Hassett also created a solo performance piece with the Oregon Maple in the Parsons Building.

Solo Performance with Oregon Maple on first floor of the Parson’s Building

See the map and three downloadable information pdf’s below, which highlight the three exhibition venues on campus and give you a bit of information behind the works in each venue.

Map showing the three exhibition venues

The work will be available to view during normal business hours up until the 3rd of May 2019.

To whet your appetite I have created a short slideshow of a few images from the various works sited across the three venues on the main Trinity College Campus. See below.

In the coming days I will highlight individual pieces, give some background information and will post more images. The best way to see the work is of course to come in and see the exhibitions!

Behind the performance

Sculptural installation in the Oregon Maple in Library Square, 2017

During the 2017 exhibition Olivia Hassett created a tendon-like sculptural installation in one of the large Oregon Maples, which collapsed last June. These yellow lycra fabric pieces mirrored the lines of the cable bracing wire system that helped support some of the heavier branches of the tree. Imagery from SEM images taken by Clodagh Dooley of the internal cellular structure of the tree was printed by the artist onto the lycra fabric before it was stretched between the branches.

2017 solo performance Olivia Hassett, lycra sculptural tendon and Oregon Maple

For the 2019 exhibition Olivia decided to re engage with the ‘lycra tendon sculptures’ in another solo performance this time with the Oregon Maple embedded in the Parson’s building. Hassett used two of the tendon-like pieces during the solo performance work that formed part of the Trinity College Trees Exhibition launch event.

Hassett began the performance draped in the fabric works from 2017. The performance took place in the external first floor part of the Parson’s building extension.

An important part of the performance included the attaching and stretching of the fabric pieces from the podium of the building to and around the trunk of the Oregon Maple tree that is embedded and surrounded by the building itself. The connection between the building and the tree and the support provided by the stretched fabric was only possible during the performance and for a short period after.

The main focus of this performative work was Hassett’s continued engagement with water retaining gel as a material. As we know water and the lack of it was highlighted as being one of the key concerns for the trees of TCD. In actual fact David Hackett mentioned that adding water retaining gel to the soil of some of the trees showing signs of dehydration was one of the options open to the grounds staff to help keep the trees healthy. Having used this material before in previous performances Hassett was used to working with and was quite familiar with it’s transformative properties. When fully engorged with water the crystals weigh up to 100 times more than in their original crystalline form. The process of fast hydration and the slow return of the water to the soil is one that can occur numerous times over the life of the material, which is estimated to be about three years.

When Hassett began to workshop and think about what elements she wanted to engage with performatively during this exhibition water retaining gel was the obvious place to start. At the beginning of the performance last week she lifted in and placed two soft plastic buckets half filled with the gel beside the tree on the first floor. She then proceeded to slowly drop, squeeze and deposit the gel onto the grating that surrounds, protects and allows rain to percolate through to the roots of the Oregon Maple tree on the ground floor. Over a period of ten minutes or so Hassett continued to drop and walk on the mounds of water retaining gel forcing the material to seep and fall through the grating onto and into the installation of tube sculptures, which enabled the gel to funnel down to the roots below.

Over the course of the exhibition this gel will continue to hydrate and dehydrate in response to the weather weakening and altering the installation of paper tubes surrounding the Oregon Maple. This transformation of material is of particular interest to the artist and is also replicated in the her choice of paper as a material for the installation of tubes. She does not know how the paper sculptures will fare during the course of the four week exhibition, maybe they will delaminate, buckle and fail as a result of repeated rain showers or maybe they will survive in some shape or other. This element of working with and adapting to the unknown in nature is therefore mirrored in a small way through the choice of her materials. More images to follow from the installation…

In addition to the paper tube installation already in place on the ground floor, Hassett has also added one of the fabric tendon-like yellow lycra pieces from the 2017 exhibition. For this installation she has stretched it from the floor up through the grating on the first floor and ending up enveloping the tree trunk above. More images to follow…..

I have already posted a blog about the architectural extension to the Parsons building designed by Grafton Architects. Since I started working with David Taylor in 2013 I have always been interested in how the original and extension to the Parsons building were designed to abut each other.

https://trinitycollegetrees.wordpress.com/2019/01/25/building-extension-incorporates-oregon-maple/

After spending some time looking at the buildings and more specifically the extension from numerous viewpoints I really grew to appreciate the lines created by the Architects’ designs and how the architecture encapsulated and protects the Oregon Maple tree from the full brunt of any storms that occur.

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I spent a good amount of time a month or so ago photographing both the interior of the parsons building where the old building is visible inside the new extension and from the outside. I am still drawn to the area where bricks from the original 19th Century building were deliberately preserved and are on display in the main corridor. The idea that where both building meet is visible inside and the fact that this outside of one building in now part of the inside space draws me to think of notions of liminal, between spaces where time and memory are layered, preserved and celebrated.

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I spent a considerable amount of time photographing this area from a variety of angles. I have chosen one of these images to include as part of a light box piece in the exhibition.

Where the two buildings met outside was not as visually interesting for me. I was more taken by the area where the Oregon Maple and the new extension met.

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There was one particular exterior image that caught my eye and I decided to do some line drawings to represent it. I was keen to engage with the idea of in between spaces and layers to reflect the notions that the building bring about for me.

I decided to start by drawing on different types, grades and sizes of tracing paper. Many many hours and drawing later I was happy with some of the results. The pieces I have chosen to include in the exhibition are in fact drawn on cork board and will be installed either inside or beside the noticeboards in the Parsons building space.

The drawings on tracing paper I have decided to use in a different way. In many ways I think they liken architectural drawings and I decided to play on this and extend the representation to roll them up and use them like pillars, all be it deliberately weak ones that might fail and crumple at some point during the exhibition, a fact that I am happy may occur. This of course would mirror some of conversations between David Taylor and I over the years and more specifically some of his recent scientific research. The light box that they are installed on emanates a gentle light from inside the rolled paper illuminating the drawing, which is layered on itself.

Again more images to follow after the installation is up.

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