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Lorax view

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“Hollow” by Katie Paterson at the University of Bristol paired with Marni leather earrings.

Can you see the forest for the trees? Scottish artist Katie Paterson hopes so: her Hollow exists as a microcosm of all the forests ever on Earth, a miniature sprouting 10,000 unique tree species into a single sensory snapshot of bio-history. Commissioned by the University of Bristol and made in collaboration with architects Zeller + Moye, Hollow will live in perpetuity at the Royal Fort Gardens in Bristol, England. Paterson worked with evolutionary biologist Dr. Jon Bridle to collect tree samples from every country (including some now extinct). The cocoon-like enclosure accommodates one or two people at time as they contemplate the sweeping relationship between organic beings.

The artist’s desired effect: Standing “inside a forest of every forest” ever in existence. Much more than matchsticks, the installation includes a who’s who of tree-story: A sample from the mysterious 4,846-year-old Methuselah tree (found in California’s White Mountains); a trimming from the UNESCO-protect cedar trees of Lebanon (the favorite of Egyptian pharaohs); a branch from the Banyan Tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment; a shard from the Atlantic City Boardwalk destroyed by Hurricane Sandy; and an offcut from a Japanese Gingko tree that survived the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Hollow isn’t Paterson’s first foray into forests: in 2014, she launched Future Library, a project which will cultivate 1,000 trees over 100 years as an arboreal anthology. In every installation, she speaks for the trees.

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