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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Artworks ready to go….Hop hornbeam

The Hop Hornbeam Tree artwork ready to be installed. It will be viewable to the public from Friday the 29th of September 2017.

HHbeam lo res

Materials – Fluorescent orange light neoprene fabric, wire, electric blue sticky fabric, fastenings and elastic.

hhbeam close up lo res

The finished artwork will be stretched like a corset covering the lumpy protuberance on the lower trunk of the hop hornbeam tree opposite the Berkeley Library.

Opening night – Guided exhibition walk

cb 1 lo res

As part of the opening event for the Trinity College Trees Exhibition there will be a guided walk to all the exhibits by one of the project team.   The walk will take place on Friday 29th September between 5.15-5.45.  There will be a limited number of spaces.  Details on how to sign up for the guided walk will be posted nearer the time.  

If you are unable to book a slot on the guided walk don’t worry the team are also in the process of developing a sound piece that will accompany those wishing to take a self guided walk from Saturday the 30th of September until the end of the exhibition.  Once the walker brings their own headphones they can visit the works at their leisure.   In front of each of the chosen trees the team also plan to have an A4 stand with a brief description of the project and the positioning of each tree on a campus map.

There will be two versions of sound piece depending on which end of the campus you are starting will determine the listing of the trees and which sound piece you click on.  One version of the sound piece covers the walk if you are starting in the main square at the Oregon Maple.  The other version if you are starting at the Science Gallery.  

Included in the audio piece is a brief introduction to the Trinity Trees Project, the trees involved and the artworks commissioned in response to these trees.

The art works in progress – Hop Hornbeam

Before undertaking the making of the artwork for the Hop Hornbeam tree I had to figure out how to make it. I could not work directly on the tree while shaping and making the ‘corset’. I also realised that it would be virtually impossible to measure accurately all the curves and bends of the 3D shape. I would therefore need to create a rough mould to work with and on. Normally I would have done this using plaster bandage/ silicone etc, materials that were definitely not suitable for working with a crumbly bark surface. After some thought and a chat with my fellow artist and super mould maker Ayelet Lalor we decided that the malleable and un intrusive properties of tinfoil would work best.

So one fine morning about a month ago Ayelet, Clodagh Dooley and I set about making a temporary tinfoil mould of the selected area. We used copious amounts of tinfoil, selotape and support sticks. See image below of Clodagh and Ayelet busy helping me with the large task. Thanks again to both of them. It was quite a fun task to do and of course we got some interesting looks and comments from passers by.

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As the piece to be moulded was so large we created it in three more manageable sections, which I transferred by car to my studio. I quickly backed the reverse of the mould with plaster bandage to preserve the shape and add strength. See image below.

backing of Mould of Hophornbeam lo res

The next step in the process was somehow to get the mould into a similar set up to the real life tree in my studio. Using a mannequin as a central support and substructure I covered it with chicken to roughly simulate the tree trunk. The mould was gently re-attached and adhered to the substructure.  I set to work trying out various ideas on how I would segment the artwork. See images below.

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After deciding which option to go for I made paper patterns for the corset. This was a quite a tricky process as you can see bellow.

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Finally I placed the pattern sections on the fabric and cut out the individual pieces. Each section was then carefully sewn together. See images below.

The time had come to see how the artwork looked and functioned. I pegged the work onto the mould. At this stage I lightly stuck on some of the blue fabric strips onto the lines delineating the different sections. See images below.

Happy with the progress of the piece so far I now had to remove the blue strips and sew an extra channel into each section to allow the support wire to be inserted. At this stage I felt it was important to bring the piece into Trinity to test it’s fit. Before doing this I reattached the piece to the mould to work out some of the kinks with the wiring and fit before doing this.

On a Saturday the 24th of June I brought the work in progress into Trinity and spent many hours stretching and temporarily tying it into place. It was during this time that I had to make some final decisions on where the tying points should be on the corset. Seeing the piece in place also helped me decide on the need to wire and cover all the edges of the corset with the blue fabric. See a selection of images from the installation.

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Lots more work needs to be done to the surface of the corset. I won’t post any more images of it until it has been finally installed in late September 2017.

The exhibition will officially open to the public on Friday 29th of September. The opening will coincide with the Trinity College European Researchers Night 2017 events. During the evening Olivia Hassett will perform alongside the Oregon Maple in the main square twice and there will be also be a guided walk of the eight artworks spread throughout the Trinity College Campus. I will post the eventbrite details to sign up for the guided walk at a later stage.

Behind the art works – the Hop Hornbeam

When researching and developing the artwork for the Hop-hornbeam (Ostrya) I was drawn initially to meaning behind it’s names. The name Ostrya is derived from the Greek word ostrua, “bone-like”, referring to its very hard wood. It is also called Ironwood. These thoughts led me to revisit my collaboration with David Taylor on our exoskeleton project and subsequent two person exhibition in the Parsons Building, Trinity College Dublin in September 2015.

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The trajectory of my own practice since then has included the creation of sculptural elements that took on some of the physical and technical properties of abstracted corsets as exoskeletons.

Images above show the protuberance that I am interested in

The physiology of the tree was also a source of inspiration in particular the lumpy shaped protuberance that snaked around the outside of the tree. It was really interesting to hear from David Hackett that this growth is a direct result of the tree’s reaction to wind factors and it’s environment in general.

My favourite SEM imagery taken from this tree was the microscopic spiky thorn-like structures that were growing on the surface of the branches.   See image below taken by Clodagh Dooley.  Thanks to Daniel Kelly and John Parnell of the TCD Botany Department I now know that they are epidermal hairs, which are only visible on the very young twigs of the Hop Hornbeam.

Hop Horn Beam004 lo res

All these thoughts and inspirations have led me to the decision to create a corset-like protective covering for the large protruding element snaking around the lower trunk. The artwork will be made from bright orange heavy swimsuit-like fabric, cut into various segments and sewn together using corset making techniques. Where normal corsets add boning (a plastic/metal strip inserted into channels sewn in the corset to create of to create structure) I will insert wire between each segment. This will allow the artwork to follow the natural lumps and hollows of the bark. Finally these lines will be accentuated by the addition of electric blue sticky fabric strips and spikes reminiscent of the SEM imagery.

Tree spotlight no.5 – the Hophornbeam

Hophornbeam

Hophornbeam or Ostrya is a genus of eight to ten small deciduous trees belonging to the birch family Betulaceae. Its common name is hophornbeam in American English and hop-hornbeam in British English. It may also be called ironwood, a name shared with a number of other plants.

The genus is native in southern Europe, southwest and eastern Asia, and North and Central America. They have a conical or irregular crown and a scaly, rough bark. They have alternate and double-toothed birch-like leaves 3–10 cm long. The flowers are produced in spring, with male catkins 5–10 cm long and female gaments 2–5 cm long. The fruit form in pendulous clusters 3–8 cm long with 6–20 seeds; each seed is a small nut 2–4mm long, fully enclosed in a bladder-like involucre.

hophornbeam details

The wood is very hard and heavy; the name Ostrya is derived from the Greek word ostrua, “bone-like”, referring to the very hard wood. Regarded as a weed tree by some foresters, this hard and stable wood was historically used to fashion plane soles. Ostrya species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including winter moth, walnut sphinx, and Coleophora Ostryae. 

Colour/ Appearance: Wide sapwood is white to pale yellow.

Heartwood is a light brown, sometimes with a reddish hue.

Overall appearance can be very similar to birch.

Rot resistance: Heartwood is rated as non-durable to perishable regarding decay resistance, and is also susceptible to insect attack.

Workability: Overall, a difficult wood to work. Hophornbeam has high cutting resistance, (which also means that the finished wood product has good wear resistance). Reacts poorly to steam bending attempts. Turns, glues, and finishes well.

Odour :No characteristic odor.

Allergies/ Toxicity: Hophornbeam has been reported to cause skin irritation.

Pricing/ Availability: because of its small size, Hophornbeam is seldom harvested commercially. Likely to be limited in availability, even within its natural range. Expect prices to be high for a domestic hardwood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: furniture, canes, tool handles, and other turned objects.

Sierra Exif JPEG

plane tool

Trinity Ball – Trees cordoned off

Trinity College Trees Oregon Maple cordened off

When I called into Trinity College Dublin yesterday to meet and talk ‘Trinity Trees’ with David Taylor, David Hackett and Clodagh Dooley I was surprised to see many of the trees that are part of our project cordoned off in advance of the Trinity Ball which happens tonight.  I think they look great surrounded by the metal barriers – enveloped and protected.