Posts Tagged ‘Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven’

I’m still working on my final Winter Garden piece, which should be ready in a couple of weeks…

For now, here’s a sneak preview of some gorgeous work done by Saturn Class at St John The Evangelist School in Islington, inspired by London Fieldworks’ fabulous sculpture in Duncan Terrace.


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“You’re just a good-for-nothing ailanthus stump sprout,” Yin’s grandmother had told her when she was still young enough to worry about monsters in the cupboard at the end of the hallway. It was just one in a line of recriminations – Yin was rude, irresponsible, she would never grow into something great.

It could have gone either way, Yin realised, years later. She might have faded into one of those invisible types whose bodies curve and cower – who seem to apologise for so much as breathing. But her grandmother had underestimated her. She wasn’t an ailanthus stump; she had grown tall and true, and like the ailanthus she was hardy and defiant. The Tree of Heaven was a survivor: it could breathe in pollution, navigate concrete, thrive in the city shadows.

Yin wished, sometimes, that her grandmother could see her now – a woman wearing a smart grey dress and kitten heels, a briefcase in one hand, a smile on her lips, comfortable in the city streets.

Inspired by the mythology and growing habits of the Tree of Heaven. London Fieldworks have created two sculptural installations drawing on the ecology and biodiversity of  Cremorne Gardens, Chelsea, and Duncan Terrace, Islington. Both have been installed in Ailanthus altissima trees; known as the ‘Tree of Heaven’

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Listen to Jo Joelson talking about London FieldWorks’ commission: Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven

–    Hi, I’ve just moved in, across the way. Yes, that’s right. I –
–    Oh, of course, I can see you’re in the middle of – I just wanted –
–    Yes, that’s right, the one with the square-ish balcony. It’s lovely out there – a good view; that’s important I’ve always thought, gives you a sense of space, stops you getting too inward-looking.
–    Oh, do you think so? I rather like it. Though I have to say these arched windows of yours are quite special.
–    Crowded? I don’t know, you should have seen where we used to live. My mother used to call it cosy. Ha! No, there’s plenty of room here; and it’s nice, don’t you think, to be close to your neighbours?
–    Planning permission? They scrapped that idea years ago didn’t they? Don’t you remember the bill – Spontaneous Cities?
–    Oh, you did? I see. I remember there was some opposition, yes.
–    Well, it’s good to meet you. I’ve always made a point of getting to know my neighbours. You must feel free to knock – any time, if there’s anything you need.
–    Or a chat?
–    Up to you, of course. I’ll be seeing you around.

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