If A Tree Falls...
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
- a philosophical question regarding observation and perception.
In London alone, 6,000 trees are felled prematurely each year. They are chipped and sent away as fuel, or even into landfill, in order to remove them as ‘efficiently’ as possible.
Currently, urban trees are not utilised or celebrated after they fall simply because cities lack the infrastructure to process them for economic benefit, and timber supply chains are not structured around urban wood.
Throughout their life, these trees have had a significant role in the urban ecosystem and community. They are just as valuable once they’ve fallen as they are when they’re standing. To chip and remove these trees denies their potential to live on and play a role in a community’s collective experience and memory.
In nature, the falling of a tree initiates a new stage in its life cycle, as multiple organisms gather to break it down into smaller parts, enabling it to return to the ecosystem it once thrived in. “If a tree falls…” is a reflection of this process in the urban landscape, through craftspeople and makers reshaping the tree into tangible artefacts.
In order to do this, a ‘roots-up’ approach is taken by creating localised community processing systems, where residents are encouraged to interact with the material on-site through workshops and demonstrations. Every part of the tree should be utilised, and is an opportunity for a new lifecycle within the urban ecosystem; whether that’s the trunk becoming chair legs, the branches becoming spoons, or the bark being used as a natural dye. These products allow the story of the tree to continue, strengthening our connection and awareness of ecological interbeing, and promoting a sense of value and responsibility for urban nature.
If a tree falls in a city and people are around to celebrate it, the tree lives on…
The bark is soaked in water for a minimum of 24 hours before it is heated and simmered for at least an hour. Wet, mordanted t-shirts are then placed into the dye pot for at least two hours to absorb the colour.
The longer the simmering, soaking and dyeing times, the more saturated the colour.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Tree Bark, Water, Cotton, Alum
127-1, 127-2, 127-3, 127-4
Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab