British Artist Anthony James' Eerie Tree Sculptures


Anthony James' "Birch Quad." Image: Anthony James Studio.

They look like something out of a dystopian future where the only remnants of nature are locked up in museums and zoos: The thin, white trunks of a cluster of birch trees glow under fluorescent lights, severed from leaves and roots, and encased in glass boxes where they are reflected to infinity by two-way mirrors.Fast Company design blog Co.Design described the works of British artist Anthony James as "what you'd get if you put Damien Hirst alone in the woods with a chainsaw."

The trees are, in fact, chopped from the Minnesota woods, taking James' art out of the eco-friendly realm. But they could be seen to have an environmental message.

Birch Trees Behind Glass
The birch-vitrine pieces, "permanently sealed in mirrored tombs," present an image of "idealized destruction," the Patrick Painter Inc. gallery in Santa Monica, California, wrote about a show of his work last fall.

The question is, will that presentation of "idealized destruction" make viewers jaded about the real thing, or will it serve as a reminder that trees need to be protected lest those preserved in gallery exhibits end up the only ones left?

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