In London, Canada, there is hardly a shortage of public art in the downtown core, but it has, in the past, been a mix of old and new, of the well presented, and of the falling apart. The city government grabbed a lot of attention with its Trees of the Carolinian Forest installation, created in stages from 2007 to 2009. The question that this entry asks is: Did this effort create an accessible, consistent image of art in London?
|These are your trees, Mr. Taxpayer|
genius level architectural features, but does not have the instant identification that the London corner has.
The other notable feature about every tree in the Carolinian forest installation, is that you can walk right up and touch them.
It is an easy way to bring the trees into the experience of the downtown. Or I could try to get a good angle on this:
Or I could go to Toronto and get my picture taken with this. Hard to miss, it also makes my list of 'hard to understand'.
|Éloges de Fontenelle|
So the question was, does the Carolinian Forest installation create and accessible and consistent artistic image for the London downtown?
In regards to accessibility, I would give a definite yes. The trees are all recognisable at a distance, and represent something familiar in an artistic way. They are also part of the land and traffic flow in a very sensible way. They provide sightseers something to include in, and to pose with in photographs. They are (whether you like it of not) uniquely 'London' by their very presence.
Do they create a feeling of being a whole project as you travel through the core of the city? No, not really. There isn't any reason to find the next tree, or group of trees. Some corners have seven or eight trees visible. Just two blocks away, there may be none in sight. There is no indication of how many trees there are in total, or any explanation as to why they were located where they are. Without a sense of the whole, the individual parts become isolated, and lose much or their impact.
So I, personally, am split on how much their presence means in the downtown. They are available to everyone, but what kind of attachment is anyone supposed to form with them?
Next time I post about the Trees of the Carolinian Forest, I'll have a few thoughts on what an installation's durability might have to do with its success as public art.
This site is all about public art, but more important than reading about it, is finding it and seeing it. Which is why I have begun to compile a gallery of all of these trees in London, and put these metal trees on a map as I go. I've also got a map for the Tree Trunk Tour and pages for the artists involved in all of these projects.