My sculpture, Subsist, is a ‘skeleton’ of a tree trunk, constructed in stainless steel. Depicted in a ruined state, the trunk has been ‘broken’ from the top. While Subsist acknowledges architecture through the use of the constructed cross-bracing motif, its primary reference is to the Romantic artists’ use of the solitary ruined tree in the Sublime landscape.
The heroic decay of mighty trees is a subject explored by painters and photographers of the mid nineteenth century who were searching for the ‘picturesque’. A solitary, damaged tree stands as evidence of the physical power of the landscape and natural forces such as storms and lightning strikes.
Subsist pays debt to this classical European tradition. But equally it acknowledges Harold Cazneaux’s celebrated 1937 Flinders Ranges’ photograph, Spirit of Endurance, where the solitary gum tree stands with its roots exposed yet still clinging to the arid landscape.
Subsist attempts to combine our human sympathies for such venerable trees, the aspirations of the Gothic, and the motif of constructed modernity.