Behind the artworks – pair of Plane trees

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The pair of Plane trees, (Platanus orientalis) is situated opposite the Law Library in Trinity College Dublin.  See above image above.  

Platanus trees are tall, reaching 30–50 m (98–164 ft) in height and are native to the Northern Hemisphere. Plane trees shed their bark every two to three years getting rid of certain amounts of pollution with the old bark. It is for this reason that they are frequently planted in urban areas.

This pair of trees are genetically related. As a result of an infection during their infancy both trees have an unusual lumpy bark and thick trunks. The lumpy protrusions on the bark are called nodules and continue to grow and regularly fall off the infected lower trunk.

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These nodules were the starting point in the development of the plane tree artworks. Initially Hassett collected a large fallen nodule (see image above of the nodule used) and made a two-piece mould from it. Coloured wax was poured into the mould and expanding foam was added to the interior as a strengthener. Two replica wax works were then created.

Interest in microscopic imagery of the haphazard cell structures (see images above) from both infected barks led to the artist to include a representative pattern of cellular ‘holes’ in both wax works. She used imagery from the right tree in the artwork designed for the left and visa versa for the artwork installed in the right tree. In addition both wax pieces were deliberately installed opposite each other further heightening the connection and unique nature of these two trees.

Of note: the artist spent many hours researching and attempting in vain to develop a viable bioplastic recipe to use in the creation of these works. Wax was the material of choice in the end as it will be interesting to see how the sticky surface and structure of the wax pieces will morph and alter in response to its environs over the course of the exhibition.  

Images of the artworks in situ will be posted after the opening of the Exhibition on the 29th of September 2017.  

Making the artworks – the plane tree

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The Plane tree nodule collected and ready to begin moulding

 

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The finished plaster backed silicone two piece mould of the nodule

 

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Wax samples testing how much red colourant to add to the microcrystalline wax to get the desired colour.

 

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Partial wax for colour and surface texture texting

 

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Resultant partial wax test

 

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Two wax copies from both parts of the mould

 

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Both halves of the wax mould brought together to create a working 3d model.

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Two working wax works ready to be properly adhered together.

The drilling of the holes to represent the imagery from the microscope will be added at a later stage.

I will post images of the final wax works when they have been installed in the trees after the official opening on September 29th.