Witness Tree Project

Craftspeople and furniture makers have been selected to work with timber obtained from Canberra’s Urban Forest and make objects/furniture that are inspired by the particular era and history “witnessed” by the specific fallen trees. This project provides a unique opportunity for ACT region artists and craftspeople to engage with local history by making objects from Canberra’s trees that would otherwise be mulched at the end of their useful life. The Witness Tree Project also allows the public to experience Canberra's Heritage through a different lens, through an exhibition of the resulting wood objects inspired by local history.

The selected craftspeople,designers and artists are:

  • David O'Brien and Jason Moore

  • Myles Gostelow

  • Matthew Harding

  • Katalin Sallai

  • James Bacanto Watt

Details of the upcoming exhibition will be announced.

“Witness Trees” are long-standing trees located in places where they may have “witnessed” key events in history. The organized, massive tree plantings of Canberra provide records of the lifespans of the trees of the urban forest. As these trees come to the end of their useful life as city street trees, they are removed and usually mulched. The Witness Tree Project will organize for a handful of these trees to be properly milled and kiln dried, and the usable timber be distributed to five selected artists, craftspeople, and furniture makers. The five makers will learn about the history of Canberra’s urban forest development and will research the local history and heritage of the felled trees. Using their investigation and understanding of Canberra and what the witness tree may have “seen” or “heard” in it’s lifespan, the selected makers will make objects that reflect, interpret, or are inspired by that tree’s experience. The project, which coincides with Canberra’s Centenary, will culminate with a public exhibition in Canberra, winter 2013 (exact place and dates TBD).

The ACT Witness Tree project is organized through The Australian National University School of Art Furniture Workshop, and is supported by a generous ACT Heritage Grant awarded by Simon Corbell MLA, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development. The acquisition of suitible trees is being made possible in cooperation with the ACT Govenrment Urban Treescapes Manager, the National Capitol Authority Urban Tree Manager, and the ANU Arborist.  This project is based on a similar successful project in the United States between the National Parks Service and Rhode Island School of Design.

Updated:  20 March 2013/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications