Alchemical Gingko    

Douglas Park, Vancouver

Alchemical Treeworks are outdoor installation pieces in which a tree appears to demonstrate sympathy to another tree species by bearing its fruit and flowers.

Sunrise on December 24th 2019 -Sunset on December 24th 2019

Materials : Gingko bilbiloa, laser-cut flax cloth olive blossoms, almonds, string

This gingko treework represents an alchemical process, the resulting opus of which is peace. The decorated gingko tree evocatively recalls the Yule tree, the pagan antecedent of the Christmas tree.

Alchemy occurs in the gingko tree by evoking the beginnings of agriculture and artistic intervention in the botanical development of the first cultivated plants in agrarian history resulting in the rendering of a festive tree.

In the branches of the gingko tree, alchemy happens through the combination of decorative elements inspired from two other trees: the almond and the olive. Almond and olive trees were among the first crops cultivated in the Green Triangle that were successively modified by various agrarian techniques. The gingko, the tree base for this treework is a plant that outdates recorded history and here represents time.

In being decorated, the gingko is demonstrating complacency with the alchemical process. This is illustrated by the harmonious impression given by the treework that the gingko would be producing the fruits and flowers of two other crops, both of which are essential in the history of the development of agriculture. The Fertile Crescent – the cradle of tree cultivation – has also always been among the geographical areas most affected by combat.

The gingko tree in this treework, seemingly producing fruits and flowers of almond and olive trees is a sign for the possibility of peace. This sign is the result of the decorative process of treework combined with the sympathy that the gingko is demonstrating towards other species of trees: the almond and the olive.

During antiquity, peace was intended as an interruption of war to allow for festive rites and celebration. This treework gingko represents the modern definition of peace: the totality of wellbeing commonly lived by mankind resulting from good actions taken in a unifying close circuit of compassion. In this treework, the most significant of these actions is generosity. The results of the alchemical process in the gingko tree manifests a divine presence called on by ancient farmers for their crops to thrive, a spiritual attitude intrinsic to the cultivation of trees and to the possibility of sharing the harvest.

This treework consists in a process of decorating a ginkgo tree with fruits and flowers from two different seasons. The garlands are olive flowers in flax cloth and the tree fruits are real almonds suspended from tree branches. Olive trees flower in spring while almond trees bear tree nuts in September. This improbable conjunction of natural elements, nonexistent in nature, demonstrates how the ancient tree that is the base for this piece is yielding to the fictions of imagination.

In this fictional scenario, two different seasonal aspects of nature arise artistically to be shared, one of beauty, the olive tree flowers and one of sustenance, the almonds. The result of the gingko tree’s collaboration in this process is alchemy. When the concept of Euphrosine is applied to the harvest, the possibility arises of growing plants with the final objective of sharing the harvest. In this treework, the ornaments and garlands represent the manifestation of a divine presence in the tree, interchangeable with Euphrosine and with sharing the harvest.

As trees are earthly, Venus is present in them. The presence of Venus in the cultivated trees is represented through the materials and ornaments used. The olive flowers are cut out of flax cloth, the material worn into battle by Spartan armies. The almonds are suspended on sewing thread and appear to be botanically produced by the gingko. Venus is also responsible for love and the generous act of sharing the harvest is specific to the work of this goddess. Cyclically celebrated festivals are a time to look at love for nature with a selective and artistic vision.

The tree is decorated because it wants to collaborate with the festive process. The ginkgo voluntarily undergoes an alchemical process through the creative assemblage of treework. The ornamentation appears intentionally created although the tree appears to organically produce garlands and decorations; the spiral of the garland around the gingko branches is to the likeness of a geometrical shape outlining Fibonacci’s numerical sequence in flax cloth olive flowers.

Both the garlands and the almonds represent human intervention in the botanical development of plants and the possibility of peace that is latent in the cyclical sharing of the harvest. Flax, material from Ceres’ grain scepter and the fabric used for the olive blossoms was paradoxically the same plant used for shirts by the spartan military. Through ornamentation, the treework proposes this material as garlands of festive flowers.