Circle of Trees – Time Piece, 2000
A public art piece installed in Woodbine Park, Toronto. It consists of seven mature maple trees planted in a circle. One of the trees has been cast into bronze. It is frozen in time while the others, chosen for their longevity, live their lives. Circle diameter is 60’, all trees are 35’. A bronze plaque illustrating what the artwork looked like at its installation is mounted on a boulder in front of the circle, as a reference point in the future. The piece will be documented every few years.
The Circle of Trees is conceived as a time piece and was installed in Toronto in 2000, as a Millennium project with assistance from Canada Council of the Arts, the Province of Ontario Millennium Fund and the City of Toronto.
As I write this, the Circle of Trees is now 14 years old. What has transpired is not what I had envisioned. The living trees have not thrived, so my projection drawings will not reflect the future as I saw it. Great pains were taken to choose the right trees, to plant them in a way that gave them the greatest chance of thriving, a watering system and new soil. One of the intentions of the piece was to let life unfold and to let time and the environment shape the piece as time passed. I expected that the growth of the trees juxtaposed against the bronze tree, would be a measurement of time. Nature would take its course, but not as expected. The environment and circumstances made it a difficult first few years for the living trees. The bronze tree remains strong.
The intent of this piece was to install it and let nature take it's course without interference. After some discussion with the City's
Art Conservator, the caretaker of the piece, and the tree experts from the City, I agreed with them to take some measures to correct the compacted soil that occurred at the time of installation when Woodbine Park was being constructed. In my mind this seemed more about correction of the original installation and not interference. It is a fine line perhaps and but I felt I had to give the original trees their optimum opportunity to grow. As the timelines on this piece are long, I feel it is still at the beginning of it's life.
The soil remediation that was undertaken by the City in order to rectify the damage, seems to have worked. The trees clearly are reviving. This means that this piece may still achieve it's original intent. So happy about this.
At age 21, the living trees continue to grow quite happily. This piece is on it's way to how I imagined.