'searching for trees'
'thaut phaa paa... a 17 minute search for Dawn Redwoods'
de Kel Portman
This book records an installation and images made for the exhibition 'Arboreality' held at Westonbirt National Arboretum in May 2008.
Portman’s work has been influenced by ‘environmentalist monks’ (phra nak anuraksa in Thai) during research visits to Thailand and Cambodia. These monks tackle urgent and controversial issues such as deforestation and the construction of large dams, using modified Buddhist rituals (such as the ‘ordination’ of trees or thaut phaa paa .....the giving of the forest robes) and an ecological interpretation of Buddhist teachings.
Inspired by these practices, Portman ‘ordained’ a specimen of Dawn Redwood, (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) wrapping it with garlands and flowers before recording the event as still images.
The second area of visual response follows his first research visit to the Arboretum. This was spent in search of specific endangered trees, (a time consuming example of being unable to see the wood for the trees). The resulting series of 17 images were made as a visual log of that search, reflecting on fragility and the passage of time, rather than the still moment
a limited edition publication of 200 copies, signed by the artist on request.
Kel Portman is a founder member of the arts collective 'Walking the Land' and makes artworks, photographs and installations that are inspired by walks and journeys through the landscape.
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