Tree Sense / At Eich Coed, which runs until the evening of 27 May, aims to encourage visitors to take a different view of trees through a series of creative installations, discussions, workshops and performances. Catherine Walker, who contributes a painting to the exhibition, tells us more...

After months of planning and creating from exhibitors across disciplines, the Tree Sense exhibition in Bangor’s Pontio building opened on Friday 3 March 2023. A collaboration between Bangor University, Pontio Arts and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), and titled At Eich Coed in Welsh, the exhibition communicates perspectives on trees from science, humanities, and arts perspectives. The way humans interact with and connect with trees is vital for informing how we manage and preserve them in the future.

I arrived at Pontio on the morning of the opening night with my huge painting filling the backseat of my car. I was among 15 contributors, and I could see some of the other pieces as I approached the building. I was met by Manon Awst, artist and creative coordinator at the Pontio who did an excellent job of organising everyone, and who helped put our work on display.

My painting aims to highlight the complexity of woodland structures due to the legacies of historic disturbance, both natural and anthropogenic. I wanted to give the suggestion of layers of time building up the woodland structure to produce an amalgamation of different stages of woodland succession. 

'Shadows of the Past', a painting depicting a woodland scene

Catherine's painting, 'Shadows of the Past'

Two paintings from the Tree Sense exhibition

The work displayed either side of Catherine's painting at Tree Sense / At Eich Coed

Returning to Pontio for the opening night, I saw my painting was displayed in wonderful company (above right). On one side was a piece of work made up of different species of moss that looked remarkably like a forest viewed from above. On the other side was a painting showing beautiful birds in a tree, with some gorgeous use of colour. It was exciting to see the painting I had spent months working on alongside these other brilliant pieces.

It was great to see the variety of interpretations of Tree Sense displayed across Pontio. Another contribution from UKCEH was by Kate Randall. Kate’s work uses charcoal drawings, ceramic, wood and bone to explore our complex relationship with nature. Incomplete clay figures balance precariously, unable to stand without the support of branches and bone. Three life-drawings suggest a brief moment in time, their presence is a reminder of the very direct role between our creativity and charcoal (heated wood).

Artwork by Kate Randall at the Tree Sense exhibition
Artwork by UKCEH's Kate Randall, 'Incomplete'

Other pieces at the exhibition range from a series of poems about different tree species to a 3D visualisation of trees produced from laser scanning. There was also an interactive artwork on the opening night comprising of a continuous drawing of trees from the Treesense experimental school, who have numerous workshops going on throughout the exhibition.

Euler, an installation by Anthony Ynohtna
'Euler' by Anthony Ynohtna

Large installations are also on display including a striking helix of wooden posts hung in the atrium inspired by shapes in science and the ever-present human influence on nature. 

The opening event featured live music and poetry, showcasing Welsh language and culture, as well the opportunity to discuss the thoughts behind each piece of work with their creators with a glass of prosecco and a Welsh cake. 

The collaborative space introduced by Tree Sense is a fantastic way to bridge the gaps between sciences, arts, and humanities. The Tree Sense exhibition will continue until May 2023 and I am sure there will be some exciting new ideas sparked by this collaboration.

I want to thank the organising team behind Tree Sense and all the contributors for putting together a thought-provoking exhibition. 

Catherine Walker

Additional information

See more information about the Tree Sense exhibition

Catherine is a PhD student with UKCEH based at our Lancaster site.