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Trees

Day with a Bog Birch

Well before daybreak on twenty third September 2020 I am down on the bog below the Mustarinda house is Hyrynsalmi, waiting for the sun to rise at 6.56 am. My plan is to visit a small birch here every hour today, from sunrise to sunset, or seven to seven, and to record my visits with a video camera, as I have done with some other trees elsewhere, before.

Day with a Bog Birch 7 am

This September morning after the autumn equinox begins with an overcast sky and a soft drizzle. I place my camera tripod next to the duckboards that mark the path, and adjust the row of trees on the horizon, the border of the small bog, to be in balance and begin. There is no sound audible from anywhere, no wind in the trees, no birds, no insects, nothing – an expectant silence, soothing somehow. The trunk of the small birch is covered with lichen, wet and soft. The ground of moss is wet and soft, too, elastic under my weight. I am no longer afraid of sinking into it, being sucked up by the bog, but feel supported by its soft bounce. For how many breaths should I stand here? Light grows slowly stronger, the day is arriving cautiously, as if on tiptoe.

Next session, 8 am, I am early, waiting. The drizzle has stopped, and the uniform grey sky is lighter above the forest edge. The daylight is much stronger now, although no sun is visible; my eyes cannot see the difference, but the camera shows the change. Standing with the birch I look at its yellow leaves, some of them almost brown, and at the small spruces and pine trees on the bog around us. The pines are small, and the only pines anywhere near; in the forest around the bog there are mainly spruces, with some birches, aspen, rowans and goat willows here and there. A sudden breeze, very gentle, is moving the leaves and my hair. Three birds fly above us high in the sky, then five birds. When I return through the forest a bird is chirping up in a spruce, and in the yard the dog barks at me. The house is waking up. 

9 am, the sky is clearing. There are dark clouds in the east, but in the west the sky is blue. The camera shows that the light has increased a lot. It is chilly, could it be colder than before? I can feel the frost on my hands. Well, it is not frost, really, but cold. The breeze is chilly, too. Although on a bog we are high up on the Paljakkavaara, the fell or hill, so there is less likelihood of frost, yet. Winter is approaching, however, there is no doubt about that, and everything around us is preparing for the freezing darkness. After the equinox yesterday, the night is already slightly longer than the day. The sun is almost piercing through the clouds, though, changing the atmosphere, but not yet. Only later, on the way back, the moss in the forest is glistening in the sun and the orange rowan leaves in the field are shining bright between the tree trunks.

10 am, the sun is shining through a soft haze, strong enough to feel warm. For the birch these rays would mean nourishment, but now, when all the chlorophyll is stored in the roots for the winter – as far as I can see, there is no green left in the leaves – it can rest and hopefully enjoy the warmth, like I do. The sun really feels almost warm at times. The small spruces and pines with their evergreen needles can go on working as usual. I guess the reason why they have such hard time living in the bog is either lack of minerals, or lack of oxygen in the water, or both, lack of light is not an issue. But they clearly seem to suffer some hardship. Many of the spruces look rather old, even though small and skinny. Between the birch and the path there is a small spruce and a small pine, growing together by coincidence as if from the same root, both clearly very young, almost like babies. I wonder if they are locked in combat or actually like each other, their lives in any case being completely intertwined.

11 am, the sky is overcast again. The grey autumn mood is back, silent and chilly. The plastic bag I covered the camera with has disappeared. I find it among the trees far to the north; it seems the gusts of wind blow from the south. While standing with the birch I look at the colours of the peat moss around us: deep maroon purple, rust and orange, almost copper, mustard yellow, brownish green, pale yellow and well, green in all shades, soft and spongy, alluring and deceptive. The small puffs of white cotton-grass seem to float in the air, bent here and there on their long stalks. Now the wind is audible as a murmur in the distance. The bog is a place to disappear in, to drown in a suddenly opening bottomless pool or to get drawn under the peatmoss by some evil elf. Holding on to the little birch feels safe and comforting when being lured into thoughts of threatening mythology by the ominous sound of the wind.

Noon, the light as before, grey. The wind comes in sudden gusts, first from the east, then from north-west. I think I hear the sound of a bird, a croak of some kind, far away. When I return from the birch to turn off the camera there is a tiny fly examining its surface carefully. Is there something to eat, some dust from my fingers, perhaps, that could be of use? It seems so fragile I wonder how it survives in the wind. This is the time when all of us have to prepare for the winter, whether hibernating or not. The time when the incredible abundance of the harvest season turns to a time of cold, dark scarcity. The loads of blueberries, lingonberries, crowberries even rowanberries all around will soon be gone, and all the mushrooms, including the masses of funnel chanterelle or yellowfoot will disappear. These are the last moments to gather and preserve what you can for the coming months, and here I am, idling with a birch…

1 pm, already afternoon. The wind is almost howling in the distance, momentarily. The sky is not uniformly grey, there are brighter patches and the clouds are moving across the sky, towards the east, it seems. There are insects, some kind of mosquitoes, dancing above the bog in front of us when I stand by the birch, I wonder if they were there before and I simply did not notice them. The lichen on the birch look rather big on the slender trunk. There are mainly two kinds, the ordinary grey and somewhat leafy ones that are common on the tree trunks here, and then smaller pale yellowish green map-like lichen between them. There are a few of a third type, too, slightly brownish and with bigger leaves. The world of the lichen is foreign and fascinating, something to explore later. When I turn off the camera the sun suddenly comes out, almost, for a brief moment of bright clarity, and then disappears again. 

Day with a Bog Birch 1 pm

2 pm, the cloud cover is thicker, the grey tone of the sky darker, the wind more persistent – it might even rain again. It is as if everything would be cringing, expecting a storm or simply preparing to endure six months of winter. I’m feeling cold despite my clothes. At the end of the session I hear movement, and suddenly a colleague from the residency and the beagle are walking on the duckboards. We greet each other with a wave, and I wonder whether the dog actually entered the picture, as it did when I was standing with the birch a few days ago. He is allowed to move freely with some kind of transmitter attached to his collar, so he can be found if he strays too far. Although it feels like being far away, ‘korvessa’, ‘korpi’ being the Finnish word for wilderness or deep forest, the bog is actually right behind and below the house. 

3 pm, grey and chilly, there is an opening in the sky above the forest edge in the west, a patch of bright white below the dark clouds, indicating that the sun could potentially break through the clouds somewhere there, as it did later, after the session, albeit briefly. This time the beagle followed me to the bog, and I was worried that he would start barking or messing with the tripod, but he was very silent and attentive and somehow sensed my concentration. It seems like he sat behind me on the path the whole time, but I cannot know for sure. When I took my coat and turned back towards the house, he seemed very confused and disappointed; probably he expected a long walk after this brief introductory pause. Today I am focused on the birch, however, rather than on him. 

4 pm, no perceivable changes, no bright openings, no warm afternoon sun, no sculpting sidelights, no dramatic shadows, nothing spectacular whatsoever – the same grey sky and the same silent bog, waiting for winter. In a few months more than a meter of snow will cover all this life, press down on it and also protect it. This area has the most snow in all of Finland, they say. That is why some of the trees have weirdly bent forms and broken tops. Probably the birch is doing wisely to store all its chlorophyll down in the roots and hibernate all winter. Some plants do sleep at night, but do they sleep during the whole winter? At least the life-processes are slowed down. Perhaps humans should try that, too; simply cover up and sleep in the cold… I can hear some hammering from the house, faintly; they are building a new staircase before the snowfalls begin.

5 pm, soft drizzle when I walk down to the bog. The plastic bag protecting the camera is wet, but the drizzle finishes and transforms into soft humidity while I am standing with the birch. The light diminishes slowly now, already two hours before sunset at 7.03 pm, and the wind dies down. There is something deeply romantic and national about this view, a small birch in a bog, an archetype of Finnish romantic nationalism or national romanticism, and that is probably one reason why I chose it. It reminds me of the paintings of the Golden Age of Finnish Art, although I should be wearing a long woollen skirt and a scarf on my head, of course. Turning one’s back to the camera or the viewer is romantic in itself; the birch and the bog make the image national, or even nationalistic. Or then not, that remains to be seen; neither what I see in front of my eyes nor what I imagine the camera to see is what will actually be recorded, I guess.

6 pm, evening mood, grey, calm, chilly, almost dusk. I stand with the birch and look around me on the bog and suddenly realize that I see only spruces and tiny pines, no birches, except far away at the edges of the bog, and wonder why. Is the soil too acid, or simply too damp, or is this fact pure coincidence? When I return to the camera, I realize there is a small birch behind the spruce to my right, outside the image to the left, and two birches about the same size as my partner further down the path next to the duckboards. The spruces towards the centre of the bog do not seem to thrive that well, and the pines are all very young, but still, how come most of the birches are on the fringes? They form a row of beautiful golden guardians around the bog, probably with some aspen and rowans, which I cannot distinguish from the distance. My friend is obviously one of the few brave ones, who survive here in the damp swamp.

7 pm, dusk, invisible sunset, darkness proceeding slowly. The day ends like it began, with a soft drizzle. What did I learn about my companion and partner in performance during this day? Do I know or understand birches better now, or bogs for that matter? Did I gain insights about the similarities and differences between birches and humans, or why not bogs and humans, too? Our inter-dependencies, or rather the complete human dependence on vegetation I knew about from before, did I learn something about it now? Perhaps it is unfair to demand that I could express that right-away? I do have a feeling that the thing I somehow realized more deeply is the shared suffering involved in life, the sheer endurance needed to survive, and how impressed we should be by every tall or tiny creature that somehow manages to do that. When I think of the birch standing here through the night, not to mention through the winter, I shiver, stunned by respect. It is too easy to think that well, they are used to it or made to cope with it, and so on. No, a birch, too, must be sensitive and vulnerable in order to live and change, and at the same time so unbeatable, so strong to stay alive… 

Day with a Bog Birch 7 pm

See videos here https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/761326/999357

Categories
Trees

The Priest’s Pine

“Papin Petäjä” or the priest’s pine is a memorial tree or historical tree and as such truly remarkable, with engravings as far back as 1750, but also very unremarkable standing next to the parking lot by the lake amongst other pine trees of similar size in Hossa Natural Park with stunning views around every bend of the road. A group of artists from Mustarinda in Hyrynsalmi drove up to the park for an excursion to “Värikallio” or colour mountain, with old rock paintings and spectacular nature. On the Hossa tourist website listing all the attractions of the area I saw this pine tree mentioned, and on the way back from the park we managed to find it. There are some remains of stone-age habitation on the spit nearby, and this pine tree shows that the place has been important later on as well. Before there were proper roads Christian priests used to move between villages by boat, and stop in some places to baptise people. This pine tree seems to have marked such a spot.

(image from the website)

By the time we were beginning our journey home and stopped briefly by the pine evening was approaching and we had a long way to drive; there was no way I could perform with it there and our brief encounter could not really be called a meeting either. I had managed to drop my phone in the lake, and had to borrow the phone of my colleague to make a quick video clip, more as a souvenir than anything else. For some reason I cannot upload it here, but a few still-images from that blurry video in evening light, which seems to colour the trunk with shades of blood, can perhaps give you an idea of this nearly dead and rather unremarkable albeit venerable old pine tree:

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Trees

With Birches in Mustarinda

Spruces are the dominating tree species in the forests around Mustarinda and create the characteristic atmosphere here, but there are other trees too, like birches, aspen, rowans and also goat willows, which seem surprisingly old and big. The first tree I chose as my performing partner was one of the old birches growing near the house, one behind the house overlooking the forest. That birch I have now performed with every morning since I arrived, that is, for more than two weeks. The time-lapse video I hope to make of our shared moments, presumably 29 altogether, will be called Daily Birch. The moments are documented as still-images on this page. And there are other birches. The small video The Reciling Birch is made of a performance with – well, a reclining birch, on the forest path not far from the house. And the latest birch partner I made acquaintance with, growing on the bog down the hill, performed with me for a video called With the Bog Birch. These two later ones are completed, edited and added to the project archive on the Research Catalogue here. Unlike my difficulties in finding a proper, reasonable or possible way to perform with the tall spruces, these birches have been easily approachable and somehow willing to collaborate, at least according to my impression, which is rather biased, of course. The birches seem familiar and easy, perhaps not so exiting, but approachable. Actually some of the old aspen trees here, with their nearly black bark and deformed branches would be exciting to collaborate with. So far, I have not dared approach any of them but have preferred the birches almost unconsciously. There is not so much time left of my stay at Mustarinda, and autumn is proceeding fast, so perhaps I should brave myself to make an effort…

Daily Birch
The Reclining Birch
With the Bog Birch
Categories
Trees

The Tallest Spruce in the Neighbourhood

How to perform with a really big tree? And especially a tree that you have not chosen, or that has not “chosen” you, but one that has been pointed to you as a local celebrity? These notes will document my first attempts at visiting and performing with or in the vicinity of a tall spruce tree growing in the Paljakka area near Hyrynsalmi, not very far from the Mustarinda House. It is visible from the road, with an overgrown carriage path leading up to it. My hostess Hanna pointed at it already when we were driving past it on arrival on Tuesday 1 September. On Wednesday I decided to walk and see if I could find it, and came easily to the path. The grass was so high that I decided not to continue all the way to the spruce but to return the following day wearing rubber boots.

The path up to the spruce – without the spruce being visible at this point.

And so I did, in soft drizzle on Thursday. I walked up towards the spruce and realized that the path was bending so I could no longer see the tree, but continued for a while until I saw it again. The path did not lead up to spruce, however, but ended up in another path forming a T-cross. In order to reach the spruce I had to enter the forest and try to find my way through the shrubs. That was not difficult as such, but I was suddenly afraid of not finding my way back. I could find the spruce alright, it was a landmark, but how would I find the path again, if I lost my bearings. I tried to note particular stubs on the way, to be able to turn back into the right direction when returning from the spruce. It was majestic, for sure. I did not take out my camera and tripod but decided to make two simple videos with my phone, one further away and one quite close, simply following its trunk from the root to the top. How on earth could I perform with a giant like this? Performing with trees is always difficult if you would like to show the tree in full, but in this case almost impossible, because of the surrounding vegetation. I felt slightly scared in the midst of the forest and decided to return and come back later.

my landmarks to find my way back to the path

Today I realized I should take this spruce as my partner and challenger to explore various strategies of performing, rather than trying to “solve” the problem with one solution. So I decided to try to return to the tree and try out different approaches each time. And I also remembered the text “Befriending a tree”, that I encountered online, here. The writer Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder has some good advice to think about: finding a tree, introducing yourself, avoid referring to “it”, quiet yourself, observe the tree, let the tree surprise you, ask the questions that come up, maybe find out facts about the tree, return several times, spend at least 30 minutes each time, and try to write, photograph, draw, and share. – In my explorations with trees I have never been so systematic, or, on the other hand more systematic in the sense of being practical, deciding rather quickly what I want to do and how I will repeat it. And all the experiences usually come up during those repetitions. But now, what if I do not allow myself the comfort and security of a repetitive routine, but try something new each time, try to acknowledge the specificity of each moment? That is a challenge…

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performances Trees

Be-coming Tree with a Pine

My meetings with trees tend to be based on repetition, repeated visits, rather than durational performances, long sessions together with a tree. When the action is to balance on your toes and reach up with your arms, in a yoga pose of sorts, 21 breaths is plenty. This, time, however, I was supposed to continue for an hour, in order to participate in the Live Art event via zoom called Be-Coming Tree. A quote from the event description:

“The Zoom live art event will showcase a network of artists communing simultaneously with their local trees and woodlands across the globe. The initiative wants to grow kinship and mutuality with more-than-human forms of life through a heartfelt, collective and connective action of communion with nature throught a creative use of Zoom: the most used video conferencing platform these days. Audiences can use the chat room as they witness this global experience. /–/ With performances by and from:
O. Pen Be (UK), Danielle Imara (UK), Jatun Risba (SLO), Surya Tüchler (GER), Emma Cole (UK), Annette Arlander (FIN), Yolande Brener (USA), Caroline Frizell (UK), Anne Murray (HUN), Izabela Waszak (SCT), Sumedha Bhattacharyya (IND), Phil Barton (UK), Nitesh Kushwaha (IND), Satadru Sovan (IND), Chaturi Nissansala(LK), Lucy Stockton-Smith (UK), Prashant Jha (IND), Dinesh Solanki (IND), Agathe Gizard (GER), Pierce Starre (UK)” For a full description of the event, see here.

Since I was to finish my daily sessions with a small pine tree on Harakka Island only the day before, the most natural thing was to perform with the same pine. The only way I could think of to extend my 21-breath performance to last for an hour, was to repeat the action for ten breaths at a time, with ten breaths of resting in between. It was not too hard, the weather was fine – the sun was almost too hot and the occasional cloud felt like a relief, as did the small gusts of wind from the north. The setting up was quite a hassle; I have not used zoom on my phone before, and my small tripod was rather unstable. Luckily Marika Maijala agreed to act as my assistant, guarding my phone and telling me when the thing was over. She also took some nice photos and video clips.

video still Marika Maijala
video still Marika Maijala
Categories
performances Trees

Performing Live with an Apple Tree

Performing for a live audience feels almost absurd in these Corona days, especially since I usually only perform for the camera. Now, when everybody else is performing via zoom or other media, I was invited to give a lecture performance at a private festival – yes, a three-day garden party with Finno-Ugric folklorists or ethnographers, sociologists, artists and general intellectuals, in short, a great event. My planning consisted of asking the host whether there was a projector, so I could show a video, or then a tree. No projector, but several trees – fine. I translated a short text about my project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees into Finnish, checked that I could show the video with the Spruce of Independence on my iPad and send it around among the audience, and decided to choose the tree once on the spot and to ask the audience to document my standing with the tree with their phones and send to me by email. There was a beautiful apple tree in the garden, remarkably high, actually, and after a brief introductory talk I invited people to come to the tree and then did what I do for the camera, raise my arms, and try to balance on my toes for a while. Due to my nervousness, or my shoes or both, I did not stay put longer than one minute, but that was enough. This was like a prototype performance, and I would be happy to make more similar type of brief performances with other trees at other parties. The documentation is compiled on the RC, here.

Categories
Trees

Remarkable Spruces

Is it because Old Tjikko, an ancient spruce, was the first tree in this series of meetings with remarkable and unremarkable trees, or because spruces are some of the trees most common to the Nordic countries, or for some other reason, that I seem to be attached to spruces these days? After befriending the pine on Hundudden in Stockholm in the beginning of the year and then finding another pine in Brunnsparken or Kaivopuisto Park in Helsinki to console myself with – not being able to travel to Stockholm from Helsinki in these covid-times – I chose the spruce on Harakka Island as another pen pal to visit. Speaking of “the” spruce is appropriate in this case; it is the only spruce tree on the island, and a tall one at that. With these two small pines and the spruce I have been writing to them sitting next to them, in Swedish with the pines and in Finnish with the spruce, performing writing for the camera, as it were. When I learned about the Spruce of Independence – a truly remarkable tree, at least nationally in Finland, because it was planted from a seed at the time of the Finnish declaration of independence in 19017 – I thought I would perhaps sit and write next to that tree as well, or then make a time-lapse video for a day together with it, as it grows very near to where I live. When I finished my daily Corona Diary with the maple tree in the yard on Tehtaankatu at the end of May, I suddenly realized I could continue the practice of “becoming a tree” together with the spruce of independence, that is, standing in a yoga pose, balancing on my toes with arms stretched upwards. Said and done, I began on the second June and today on the third I tried to repeat the same image – not really succeeding, unfortunately, the framing is slightly off to the left, but in future images I know now to adjust it. The funny addition today was the English speaking lady sitting and reading in the grass. I told her she would be visible in the image and she said she did not mind, but politely turned her back towards the camera. Perhaps this surprise made me fumble with the framing, or then the fact that I placed the camera tripod so close to the trunk of a huge maple tree – to remember the position – that adjusting the framing was actually difficult. Anyway, this was a beginning, and a proper continuation of my meetings with remarkable spruces.

First image, 2 June 2020.
Second image 3 June 2020
Snapshot with my phone some days before
The spruce of Harakka Island
Categories
Trees

Quarantine in Helsinki

What can you do in these exceptional times when Covid-19 is limiting the activities of most people, and especially those, who have arrived from abroad? Two weeks quarantine in your own home is not that bad, though, because you are allowed to move outdoors as long as you keep some distance to people. But this does not include trees. After a week of trying to adjust to this new world, cold, bright and windy, I finally decided to find some tree companions to pass time with. I walked in parks that I seldom visit and tried to find something that would remind me of the Pine on Hundudden in Stockholm, which I cannot visit now. But I could not find anything. All the parks were so well cleaned and open, and also filled with people – a sunny weekend and nothing else to do. Finally, today, I realized I could try to perform with the maple tree in my home yard, as I did with the oak on Galway road in Johannesburg. Why not? So, I simply began, and this is the image I will try to repeat:

After this decision I took a walk to the nearby Brunnsparken or Kaivopuisto, not really expecting to find anything. And there, on top of the nearest rocks was a small pine, as if waiting for me. I experimented with several camera angles, and decided to leave out the streets and the sea and the recognisable buildings and place my camera facing north; the view could be from anywhere. I tried various poses and realized this little pine would be nice to stand next to as well. My plan was to sit down and write to it, with it, though. It was already late afternoon and too cold to write, and I decided to return tomorrow for a proper start. This pine tree is nevertheless the one I will try to befriend and collaborate with in Helsinki for now…

Today, Monday I finally tried writing, with a cap and gloves, and for a moment only, because it started snowing! Getting a cold while in quarantine would be somewhat of a paradox – or just in line with the times… In the future my (hopefully) regular visits to the Maple tree in the yard on Tehtaankatu and my irregular visits to the Pine in Brunnsparken will be documented as video stills on the Research Catalogue: The Maple and The Pine.

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ARA Trees

Five Days in Nirox

The first day of my brief Nirox Residency was filled with travel, settling in my room and wandering around the Sculpture Park, marvelling at all the artworks, water features, lawns and trees, enjoying the peace and calm after the hectic days in Joburg. In the evening I looked at some trees to spend a day with, since that was my plan – to use this opportunity of being close to nature in a protected space to make a time-lapse video with a tree every hour for one day.

The second day began early, I thought, at 7 am, when I went to look at one of the trees that I remembered as small and unremarkable but nevertheless interesting among all the magnificent trees around. The sun was already high, we should have started at 6 am, I realized, too late. The tree was unknown to me, but my host told me later it was called Rhus pyroides, today Searsia pyroides, in English either Firethorn Rhus or Common Wild Currant. I spent the grey day visiting the tree every hour from 7 AM until 6 PM when the rain began – a veritable thunderstorm. The plan was to continue until 7 pm, expecting there to be some light left after the sunset 18.22., but it was rather dark already at 6 pm, as you can see from the second image below, so I gladly stopped at six and nearly escaped the storm.

Day with the Firethorn Rhus, first image (7 AM)
Day with the Firethorn Rhus, last image (6 PM)

The third day at Nirox began in a relaxed manner with my usual routines, including yoga etc. I headed out into the park with my camera around 10 AM and generated material for three works, or three sketches, before lunch – this is what happens sometimes, when you are in the right place at the right time. The sketches included standing with the majestic Weeping Willow, simply because it was so beautiful, sitting and writing on the Firethorn Rhus above the brook (although the writing is not visible in the image) and then stopping to reach for the crowns of some Hackberry trees on the way back – see images below:

Dear Firethorn Rhus
With a Weeping Willow
With the Hackberry Trees I
With the Hackberry Trees II

The fourth and last day opened a whole new world; I walked out into the reserve, the bushveld, and enjoyed the open grassland, the slopes, the wide and vast landscape. This was the right place for me… After finding the road I quickly returned to bring my camera, continued walking and found a small Firethorn Rhus to perform with. They actually grow all over the place; I chose a small one with a rock next to it:

Dear Firethorn Rhus II

Friday, the fifth day, was again a traveling day, and in the car on the way back to Joburg I looked at the landscape with different eyes. These four days were the highlight of my time in this country, at least in terms of art and peace and beauty. This was further accentuated by the Corona virus panic spreading everywhere. Maybe I will come back one day to revisit the trees, and to see the rest of the sculptures, some of them far away in the Reserve. A big thank you to everybody who made this brief visit possible!

Categories
ARA Trees

In the River Bushwillow

Of all the trees I have met in Johannesburg during my ARA (Arts Research Africa) residency, so far, the huge tree next to the pond up on the slope of The Wilds Park, surrounded by benches, is the most photogenic one. The reason is light, of course, as usual, when it comes to working with camera – a dramatic division into brightly sunlit areas and deep shadows. The thick trunks or branches of the River Bushwillow (there was a label with the name attached to it) are very pale, almost white, so the light has an effect. They were strong enough to easily take my weight, but not very comfortable, I must say. Although I counted my breaths while sitting in the tree, and tried to relax and let my bony legs somehow sink down between the branches, sitting there was so uncomfortable that I gave up after 120 breaths. I must have breathed quickly, because usually 100 breaths will cover 20 minutes or more. Now the final video is only little more than 15 minutes (it took me quite a while to find a pose to remain in, to begin with) but that is probably enough. The other tree we visited in the same park, Henkel’s Yellowwood, which I leaned on, I managed to pose with for the full duration (21 minutes is the time my camera is recording video at a time) but the image is not especially interesting.

There have been other trees that I have been sitting in, indigenous trees like the Karee, and exotic ones, too, like the Ombu tree, the Cork tree and the Purple Leaf Acasia. They are all secondary to my real ambition here, that is, to record the trees of people and also their stories about the trees and why they chose them. That is something I have never done before, and after trying that here with Myer’s Oak, it seems like the right thing to do. I have recorded Samuel’s Oak, Christo’s Cabbage Tree and Donald’s Searsia, and I hope there will be more. The four first ones are all white men, so now it would be nice with some women, and some colour, too. Manola and the River blue gum tree we already visited, and hopefully we can record something next week. The trees are all listed here, sooner or later

In terms of changes to my practice here, the idea of recording other people performing or posing with the trees of their choice is something new, as is the idea of recording their stories, in the form of interviews of sorts. Concerning my own practice posing or balancing for less than a minute every morning with the oak on Galway road is new in terms of the pose, although the idea of time-lapse is well-worn. And sitting in individual trees for a while I have done before, the only difference is that here I use more time. Contrary to what I planned, I have not written anything with or by a tree. Perhaps I will write something afterwards…