Diana Hobson, an artist working with nature and the environment

‘Fragile Memories’ is a personal response to the rapid changes we are experiencing in our environment.

The project, began in 2012 with an artist residency at Bær Arts Center in the north west of Iceland, where volcanic activity is constant and the rising water from Arctic glaciers is gradually changing the shape of the land—one of the most recent land masses on the planet.

To create the work, I soaked thin Sekishu paper in the ocean at the fjord’s edge and carefully moulded it into the nearby volcanic basalt rock, peeling it away as an almost indelible skin of memory.

Following the same process in California, I pressed wetted Sekishu paper into the bark of our ancient coastal redwoods, and then drew into the detail using graphite. The dried paper became like an intricately mapped cutaneous membrane—a skin of memory from the tree, who had itself ‘collaborated’ by randomly impregnating the paper with its own brown coloring.

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. 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 their wood. 

These fine translucent skins, a fragile record of an ancient collective life form and the delicate memory of a seemingly dense rock form, is my way of record keeping, paying tribute to the largest natural living organism on the planet and of our earth that has sustained us.


‘Fragile Memories’ forms part of a solo retrospective show at Vessel Gallery, Oakland, July 3 – August 8, 2015.