Pine Forest (Work in Progress)

Artist: Rose Petterson

Size:  3.6m x 3.6 m, 3.8m high

Medium:  treated wood, construction waste

         

 

Permanent Public Sculpture for The Junction
- New Plymouth Reuse and Recycle Centre 2020

  Colson Road, Waiwhakaiho

This installation is a 'forest' of recreated pine trunks, made from waste products of the construction industry.

It is a contradiction; a tree made from wood. 

The very picture of where we sourced the material from in the first place now being re-used to re-create where it once came from.

However!  The tree that once was, is no longer in its original and pure state.  It’s fragmented, it’s cut up, it’s made from off-cuts and unwanted, discarded and defected pieces.  And it has that sickly smell the comes with being infused with chemicals.  And like so many of our other species on earth it will be stuffed with plastic. 

It will be a beautiful and inviting sculpture at the entrance of The Junction and yet it will be adequately controversial and will enable discussion to happen regarding our waste practices and our domination over the earth.  It is a demonstration of how we can use otherwise useless pieces of wood headed for landfill and construct something beautiful.  It is also an invitation to acknowledge our role in the destruction and oppression of our natural environment.

Every year, New Zealand industries and households discard over 3 million tonnes of construction and demolition debris to landfills.  That's about 50% of all the nations waste.   About 4 tonnes of waste is produced directly or incidentally, by the construction of one new house.  It’s more than timely to address this issue of where does the excess go when a house is being built?

 

Have you seen those images of birds, fish and whales that end up dead on the shore and their insides consist primarily of plastic waste?

And what if the place we call home, the earth that we live on, the only earth we have, is facing the same dilemma? 

 

Because of man’s increasing domination of the earth, overuse of its resources and poor or ignorant disposal of then unwanted and used materials,  we are feeding our earth these same toxic materials.  As we bury our convenient-at-the-time packaging that will take another 400 years to break down, the inside of the earth is becoming more and more like those poor sea creatures, that end up with their stomachs filled with our waste products.  Below are some pictures of the construction waste piles of toxic treated wood heading to landfill, to the stomach of Papatūānuku.

Work in Progress Images

I visit construction sites and load my car up with all the unwanted wood, the pieces that have lost their structural integrity because of a crack or a large knot, bits that are now too short to be useful for much else, bits that have warped or twisted... and I feel sad because I know there are so many piles of waste like this around the country waiting to be buried in the ground, waiting to leach their toxins into the soil, the whenua that is supposed to sustain us.

 

As I drive back to my studio, the windows are wound up, but not for long because the impregnated smell is giving me a headache.

As I'm building, constructing pieces like a puzzle, I pause to admire the beautiful knots and the grain of some of these pieces, and try to place them in such a way as to showcase the beauty of someone else's rubbish but I keep thinking to myself, 'I should probably be wearing gloves, I wonder how much of these chemicals are getting into my blood stream....'

When the saw cuts through a wet pile, there's that sweet smell of pine, it's almost like Christmas.  But it's tainted by the infusion of chemicals, like when you smell the sweetness of Raro and think this must be good for me, but immediately after drinking it you realise, this was a horrible mistake.  I guess after decades of the construction industry dumping it's waste and the growing global awareness of our environmental construction we're starting to realise the horrible mistake we've been making also.