Edwina fitzPatrick’s The Archive of the Trees takes a local approach to explore how weather, memory and biodiversity overlap, using dendrochronology (tree cores) to look inside living trees. In addition to the Archive Tree Banners displayed at The Arches and in the walkthrough video above, the project involves the Wrapped Trees, located within Fineshade Wood itself, plus a website www.archiveofthetrees.co.uk.
At the beginning of the project, Edwina asked Fineshade visitors, residents and Forestry Commission workers whether climate change should be addressed culturally or scientifically. In response to their unanimous answer of “both”, The Archive of the Trees combines scientific data with cultural anecdotal information, taking a local approach to a complex global phenomenon.
At the heart of the project are the dendrochronology cores collected from mature trees in Fineshade Wood by Swansea University’s UK Oak Project team. Collecting these cores – the tree’s own individual archive – reveals each tree’s age, growing patterns, past weather conditions, stresses such as diseases, as well as its reaction to diverse and changing weather conditions.
The banners feature a central unmanipulated core image, a stretched version of the core, as well as a timeline, and excerpts from conversations with 60 diverse people who care about Fineshade Wood. Each banner takes a topic affecting both trees and humans such as pollution, seasonality, adapting to new environments or healing from wounds. It also includes some very human preoccupations such as weather prediction and land stewardship.
The Forest is the Museum is Fermynwoods Contemporary Art’s programme of artists in residence at Fineshade Wood, taking place between 2018 and 2020. This programme will situate itself in the surrounding environment as well as The Arches, a project space and artist studio renovated by the Forestry Commission to celebrate their 100th anniversary and Fermynwoods Contemporary Art’s 20th.