View all news

'Miniature forest' Hollow comes to Royal Fort Gardens

Some of the wood samples being used to form Hollow Max McClure

Artist Katie Paterson

Press release issued: 10 March 2016

A new public artwork called Hollow, made from 10,000 tree samples from across the world, will be unveiled by the University of Bristol on 9 May.

The artwork will be permanently sited in the historic Royal Fort Gardens in Bristol. It's the result of three years' work by artist Katie Paterson, in collaboration with architects Zeller & Moye.

Hollow was commissioned to mark the opening of the University's £56.5million Life Sciences building and is produced by Bristol-based public art producers, Situations.

From the oldest tree in the world to some of the youngest and near-extinct species, the tree samples contain within them stories of the planet's history and evolution through time.

Spanning millions of years, Hollow is a miniature forest of all the world's forests, telling the history of the planet through the immensity of tree specimens in microcosm.

Katie Paterson said: "Some samples are incredibly rare – fossils of unfathomable age, and fantastical trees such as Cedar of Lebanon, the Phoenix Palm, and the Methuselah tree thought to be one of the oldest trees in the World at 4847 years of age, as well as a railroad tie taken from the Panama Canal Railway, which claimed the lives of between 5,000 to 10,000 workers over its 50 year construction and wood is salvaged from the remnants of the iconic Atlantic city boardwalk devastated by hurricane Sandy in 2012."

Over 10,000 unique tree species have been gathered from across the planet, from Yakushima, Japan to the White Mountains of California, with generous donations from the Herbario Nacional de México, Kew Gardens, Kyoto University, the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard and many more.

Professor Guy Orpen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol and Chair of its Public Arts Committee, said: "We’re very excited to see Hollow in situ at Royal Fort Gardens and have no doubt that it will be a magnificent piece of public art for people across Bristol and beyond to explore and enjoy. It's quite amazing to think that trees of all ages, from so many different families and from all corners of the earth, will be represented.

"It’s certainly a captivating way to celebrate the important work taking place in our world-leading Life Sciences building, where our researchers are studying many of the acute challenges which face humanity this century – such as food security, biodiversity loss and climate change. Hollow allows us to connect in new and previously unimagined ways with the beauty, complexity and depth of the natural world."

Further information

The launch of the artwork is marked by the release of a companion digital website and public participation project in collaboration with BBC Four and BBC Get Creative.

Alongside Hollow, Situations has developed a public participation project with BBC Get Creative, to be launched on 27 April, which offers the chance to contribute to an online Treebank, a collection of memories, impressions and creative responses which capture how trees shape our existence on the planet. These might include audio or visual contributions, describing a particular place and time, a rare and ancient tree or a common, but personally significant tree.

The creation of Katie Paterson’s Hollow has been filmed for BBC Four's 'What Do Artists Do All Day?' series which will be broadcast in May alongside 'Forest, Field and Sky', a major new documentary about land art presented by James Fox.

Edit this page