Five things to know about Among the Trees

Friday, March 6, 2020 - 10:31

Ever wondered what it would be like to see a 30-metre-high tree inside Hayward Gallery? Our new exhibition Among the Trees brings together artworks by 38 artists who explore our relationship with trees and forests. Here are five things to know about it.

It takes us all around the world – from Colombian rainforests and remote Japanese islands, to the streets of New York City – and presents us with astonishing things

...including a cast of a 2,000-year-old olive tree from southern Italy, and an ancient underground forest in South Africa photographed by Rachel Sussman as part of her decade-long project to document the world’s oldest living things.

The Oldest Living Things in the World


Ugo Rondinone, cold moon, 2011, at Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery, 2020  © Ugo Rondinone 2020. Courtesy of Hayward Gallery. Photo: Linda Nylind


There are artworks that push at the very limits of the building, and celebrate the soaring scale of trees

Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s huge, cinematic portrait of a 30-metre spruce, for example, takes over almost the entirety of one of the lower galleries, while Guiseppe Penone’s Tree of 12 Metres (1980–82), a sapling painstakingly excavated from an industrially planed piece of timber, stops just short of the ceiling. Upstairs, Viriginia Overton has covered one of the gallery walls in vibrantly coloured planks of Eastern red cedar taken from trees that surround her family farm in rural Tennessee. 


Giuseppe Penone, Tree of 12 Metres, 1980–82, at Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery, 2020 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020. Courtesy of Hayward Gallery. Photo: Linda Nylind


The artists in this exhibition explore new ways of thinking about our connection to trees and forests, and the role they play in our lives and imaginations

Eva Jospin transforms the gallery into an enchanted wood with her towering forest made entirely from cardboard; Anya Gallaccio presents us with a tree laden with fairy-tale fruit; while artists including Sally Mann, Steve McQueen and Jimmie Durham address how entwined trees are with our history, politics and everyday lives.


Eva Jospin, Forêt Palatine, 2019-2020, at Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery, 2020. © Eva Jospin 2020. Courtesy of Hayward Gallery. Photo: Linda Nylind


It spans the past 50 years – a period that coincides with the emergence of the modern environmental movement

It’s also timed to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, which takes place on 22 April. At Hayward, we’ll be celebrating with an evening of poems written in response to artworks in Among the Trees by ten contemporary poets, including Anna Selby, L. Kiew, Mona Arshi and Seán Hewitt.

Leaving the City: Poets on Trees


Anya Gallaccio, because I could not stop, 2002 at Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery, 2020 © Anya Gallaccio. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2020. Courtesy of Hayward Gallery. Photo: Linda Nylind


Finally, it encourages us to appreciate the beauty and complexity of trees and forests

And to lose ourselves – momentarily – in artworks that range from Jennifer Steinkamp’s hypnotic video-installation of a birch grove cycling through the seasons, to Toba Khedoori’s intricate, almost hallucinogenic, drawings and paintings of dense networks of branches, roots, and leaves.


Jennifer Steinkamp, Blind Eye, 1, 2018, at Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery, 2020 © Jennifer Steinkamp 2020. Courtesy of Hayward Gallery. Photo: Linda Nylind


Header image: Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Horizontal – Vaakasuora, 2011, at Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery, 2020 © Crystal Eye, Helsinki, 2020. Courtesy of Hayward Gallery. Photo: Linda Nylind

Hayward Gallery is currently closed, but you can purchase the catalogue for Among the Trees to be delivered.

purchase the catalogue


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