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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Celtic sacred trees – The crab apple

As the Crab apple tree was this week’s highlighted tree I thought I would include a blog about it’s mythological and sacred nature. At a later stage I will also look at the stories and symbolism associated with the Yew tree.

wild apple wood twigs

In general many types of trees found in the Celtic nations are considered to be sacred, whether as symbols, or due to medicinal properties, or because they are seen as the abode of particular nature spirits. Historically and in folklore, the respect given to trees varies in different parts of the Celtic world. On the Isle of Man, the phrase ‘fairy tree’ often refers to the elder tree. The medieval Welsh poem Cad Goddeu (The Battle of the Trees) is believed to contain Celtic tree lore, possibly relating to the crann ogham, the branch of the ogham alphabet where tree names are used as mnemonic devices.

The pome fruit and tree of the apple is celebrated in numerous functions in Celtic mythology, legend, and folklore; it is an emblem of fruitfulness and sometimes a means to immortality. Wands of druids were made from wood either of the yew or of the apple.

Hand carved druid wand from apple wood

Crab apples have long been associated with love and marriage. It was said that if you throw the pips into the fire while saying the name of your love, the love is true if the pips explode. Apple wood was burned by the Celts during fertility rites and festivals, and Shakespeare makes reference to crab apples in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Love’s Labour Lost.

To follow are brief synopsis of some legends that talk include references to the apple tree, which I found in Wikipedia.

The soul of Cú Roí was confined in an apple that lay in the stomach of a salmon which appeared once every seven years. Cúchulainn once gained his escape by following the path of a rolled apple. An apple-tree grew from the grave of the tragic lover Ailinn. In the Irish tale Echtrae Conli (The Adventure of Connla), Conle the son of Conn is fed an apple by a fairy lover, which sustains him with food and drink for a month without diminishing; but it also makes him long for the woman and the beautiful country of women to which his lover is enticing him. In the Irish story from the Mythological Cycle, Oidheadh Chlainne Tuireann, the first task given the Children of Tuireann is to retrieve the Apples of the Hesperides (or Hisbernia). Afallennau (Welsh, ‘apple trees’) is a 12th-century Welsh narrative poem dealing with Myrddin Wyllt. The Breton pseudosaint Konorin was reborn by means of an apple.

Tree spotlight no. 4 – The Crab Apple

 

Malus-sylvestris-Native-Crab-Apple-Ireland

Crann fia-úll (Malus sylvestris)

Like the wild cherry, crab apple has been deliberately grown around old farmsteads (and the fruit used for crab apple jelly) but is also a truly native species found in old woodland. Crab apple is found in hedgerows throughout the Irish countryside. Unlike modern hybrid apples, crab apples grow true from the apple pips.


It is a small tree, very suitable for gardens. It bears attractive pink/white apple blossom in the spring, while the apples provide an autumn feature in the garden, as well as a useful crop.

crab apple tree in the middle of a large green field

What does crab apple look like?

Overview: one of the ancestors of the cultivated apple (of which there are more than 6,000 varieties), it can live to up to 100 years. Mature trees grow to around 10m in height. They have an irregular, rounded shape and a wide, spreading canopy. With greyish brown, flecked bark, trees can become quite gnarled and twisted, especially when exposed, and the twigs often develop spines. This ‘crabbed’ appearance may have influenced its common name, ‘crab apple’.

The crab apple is one of the few host trees to the parasitic mistletoe, Viscum album, and trees are often covered in lichens.

Leaves: the brown and pointed leaf buds form on short stalks, and have downy hair on their tips, followed by glossy, oval leaves, which grow to a length of 6cm and have rounded triangular teeth.

Flowers: in spring, the sweetly scented blossom is pollinated by bees and other insects, which develops into small, yellow-green apple-like fruits, around 2-3cm across.

Fruits: sometimes the fruits are flushed with red or white spots when ripe. Birds and mammals eat the fruit and disperse the seeds.

Look out for: it has a ‘crabbed’ or spiny appearance because of gnarled and twisted twigs.

Where to find crab apple

Crab apple thrives best in heavy, moist, well-drained soil and areas of scrub. They grow throughout Europe.

Value to wildlife

The leaves are food for the caterpillars of many moths, including the eyed hawk-moth, green pug, Chinese character and pale tussock. The flowers provide an important source of early pollen and nectar for insects, particularly bees, and the fruit is eaten by birds, including blackbirds, thrushes and crows. Mammals, including mice, voles, foxes and badgers also eat crab apple fruit.

CrabApples_large

How we use apple

The trees are often planted in commercial orchards as their long flowering period makes them excellent pollination partners for cultivated apples. The fruit can be roasted and served with meat or added to ales or punches. More commonly it is used to make crab apple jelly, and also as a natural source of pectin, for setting jams.

The pinkish wood has an even texture and makes good quality timber, and lends itself particularly well to carving and turning. It also makes a sweetly scented firewood. In Ireland a yellow dye was extracted from the bark to colour wool.

crab-apple-bark-2-lo-res

Threats

The crab apple is susceptible to a variety of fungal infections, including apple scab, honey fungus and apple canker.  As you can see above the Crab Apple tree in the Rose Garden in Trinity College Dublin suffers from apple canker, the white furry residue on the bark.