‘Fragile Memories’ – delicate impressions taken from our California Coastal Redwoods – is a response to the rapid changes we are experiencing in our environment. This is a new experimental development in my work, inspired by the land. The focus began in 2012 at the Baer Arts Center in the north of Iceland, a unique island where the melting glaciers and rising water is gradually edging into the land.
As global warming develops, researchers predict that our majestic redwoods could play a major role in reducing the effect of climate change on the planet. In an unprecedented growth spurt it appears that redwoods are sequestering the extra atmospheric carbon in the wood. The redwood is a very old type of tree that once, surviving fire and cataclysm, abundantly inhabited the planet. The oldest seed, found by scientists in Antarctica dates back to the Triassic period, about 240 million years ago. In a way this work is a tribute to our tiny surviving population in California.
I have taken 50 impressions directly from a family of redwoods native to the Santa Cruz Mountains using thin Japanese Sekishu paper——which of course began life as a tree—natural pigments and graphite. The high relief impressions are made by pressing the wetted paper into the bark, which in itself contributes by dying the paper. When dry and still on the tree, I draw into the impression, finally peeling the paper away from the tree like a fine translucent skin—a fragile record of an ancient collective life form. This is my way of record keeping and paying tribute to the largest natural living organism on the planet.