‘Tree’ / Natural History Museum

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We were approached by Tania Kovats to fabricate and install her project ‘TREE’, which had been chosen by the Natural History Museum (London) to celebrate Darwin’s bicentenary.

The idea was based upon Darwin’s famous ‘tree’ drawing which attempted to explain evolution, showing different species as different branches. Taking this as inspiration, Tania Kovats approached Longleat Estate who helped her choose a 200 year old tree to fell as part of their sustainable forestry programme.

Once it had been chosen the tree was carefully marked, so as it was felled we could transport each branch to the studio and rebuild the entire 17 metre tree in our London studio.

We made a huge drying kiln out of a shipping container to season the timber as fast as we could, to make the deadline for the project.

Weeks of planning, choosing and setting out each branch and twig followed, skimming the large sections down on our CNC router to ensure they were flat before bonding them to the lightweight aluminium honeycomb core panels which had to fit into the existing roof panels in the Natural History Museum, and work around the climate control vents essential to the museum.

Once bonded the timber was treated with wax, the background painted, and finally we installed the tree using custom-built aluminium lifting frames.

All materials used were compliant with the museum’s conservation requirements.

As a final part to the project, Tania visited Longleat Estate again and planted 200 trees to replace this one and continue the cycle of growth and evolution.

Natural History Museum’s video of project

Final installation photo credits: Kevin Webb NHM image resources