Seattle-based artist John Grade has created a sculpture precisely shaped from the living trunk of a 140-year-old Western Hemlock tree growing in North Bend, Washington. Built from a latticework comprised of hundreds of thousands of salvaged old-growth cedar blocks, the story behind its construction (and ultimate fate) is almost as beautiful as its light-filled form.
The project began when Grade and a team of arborists scaled 85 feet up in the living tree. High above the forest floor, they gently wrapped its trunk and branches in aluminum foil and a plaster cast. Then, removing the hardened shell, they transported its form in pieces back to the large-scale studio at MadArt in Seattle. For months afterward, hundreds of volunteers (including many off the street) wove an intricate lattice structure around the form using individually shaped blocks. The final step in the process was sanding all the rough edges into a smooth, arboreal form.
The sculpture, called Middle Fork, will be on display at MadArt space from January 25th through April 25th, later heading for exhibits in London and Washington, DC. After Middle Fork has toured the world, it will be returned to the base of the tree that lent its form to the project. There at the tree’s base it will slowly moss over, and disintegrate back into the ground – the circle complete.
See John Grade and his team of volunteers create this incredible piece:
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