Sunday, December 11, 2005

Talking trees

Amaptocare is a major public arts project by Jochen Gerz. If you sponsor a tree, you choose the species, which determines the price. A small lectern beside it will be engraved with your answer to the question, "If this tree could talk, what should it say for you?" Jochen has spoken to over 300 out of 600 of the donors already, mostly in person. As I'm not in Dublin, he phoned me last week at an appointed time to discuss the text to go beside the wild cherry tree that I chose. I told him I lived in Ballymun till I was 23, but I wasn't sure what was required, that it was too easy to philosophize. He said that what he was looking for was something personal, rather than general. I wasn't able to answer there and then, though I had thought a lot about it. In the end, this is what I emailed, and this is what will go beside my tree:

"I heard the cranes on tracks singing to progress when they built their concrete house of cards. A hollow evicted became a hill. Cubitt Haden & Sisk raised seven giant mausoleums to seven system-built heroes. Spiral arms gerrymandered out across constituencies. Refugees fell in from the tumbling city. Now where hundred-foot lighting masts used to sway, the hill has been righted back to earth. Where only the odd sapling pined, a forest advances from Santry woods south. Listen to the singing of blackbird and robin in the branches now, and circling above in their changeless Dublin accent, the seagulls still crying, still laughing."


  1. A great project to have visitors able to read wonderful words like these in front of beautiful trees like the cherry.

  2. thanks. gerz also has another project for ballymun to plant a grove of 400 oak trees, the national memory grove. perhaps somebody was guilt-stricken about felling the seven towers named after the seven signatories of the 1916 proclamation. nevertheless, far better 400 trees than those tower blocks, which are being replaced with better housing. the ground around there is fairly waterlogged and trees are good at using up that excess dampness. there used to be a hill on one side, which i referred to in that little text. it represented the earth taken out to make the central sunken roundabout with all it's underpasses and hundred foot lighting masts. when i was over some time ago, the hill had gone - back where it came from. no more underpasses, roundabout or anything. no more dual carriageway. excellent.

  3. they are in the process of getting rid of the dual carriageway, rather. the whole project is massive, and will take years to finish.