‘Modernist grotto’ made from 10,000 tree samples in Bristol

A captivating new piece of public artwork, made from 10,000 tree samples gathered from across the world, has been unveiled by the University of Bristol.

The intricate structure, called Hollow, is located in Royal Fort Gardens and represents the planet’s history and evolution through time.

Described as a ‘modernist grotto’, it’s big enough to fit two people and promises to be an immersive experience as light falls through apertures in the ceiling, mimicking the way sunlight falls through trees in a forest.

The creator of the artwork, Katie Paterson took three years to amass the samples, many of which have been donated by private collectors, arboretums and botanic gardens across the world.

She said: “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, as well as 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.”

Among the 10,000 pieces of wood is a fossil from an ancient forest which grew 390 million years ago where New York City now stands.

Wood from more recent historic events also forms part of the structure, including part of the iconic Atlantic City boardwalk devastated by hurricane Sandy in 2012 and a sample from the Japanese Ginkgo tree in Hiroshima, a tree that witnessed and survived one of the darkest moments of human history.

Hollow will be open to the public from 2pm on Monday, 9 May. It will be open during daylight hours throughout the year. It’s located in Royal Fort Gardens and is best accessed from Tankard’s Close, BS8 1UH.

The story of Hollow and its creation by artist Katie Paterson and architects Zeller & Moye was the subject of BBC Four documentary ‘What Do Artists Do All Day?‘, available on BBC iPlayer until 5 June.

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