Modernist Wooden Grotto Immerses You in 390 Million Years of Trees

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modernist grotto 1

The entire history of trees on earth, from the very first species that emerged 390 million years ago to species only recently discovered, comes together in a single sculptural installation on the grounds of a garden in the UK. ‘Hollow’ by artist Katie Paterson and architects Zeller & Moye is a meditation space made of lumber sourced and gathered from around the globe, immersing visitors in a miniature forest of spectacular diversity.

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Set into the grass at the Historic Royal Fort Gardens in Bristol, ‘Hollow’ is a beautiful and evocative tribute to the history and importance of trees, each individual piece telling a story. The 10,000 wooden components range from tiny little cubes of rare samples to beams that run nearly the entire height of the installation, glued together in a seemingly random arrangement to create a sort of cavern. Look up from the inside and you’ll see the sky through a series of apertures, designed to mimic the way sunlight filters through the branches in a forest canopy.

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“Some samples are incredibly rare – fossils of unfathomable age, and fantastical trees such as cedar of Lebanon, the Phoenix palm, and the Methuselah Tree thought to be one of the oldest trees in the world at 4,847 years of age,” says Paterson. “Also, a railroad tie taken from the Panama Canal Railway, which claimed the lives of between 5,000 to 10,000 workers over its 50 year construction, and wood salvaged from the remnants of the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.”

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