As you step inside Hollow you are surrounded by millions of years of evolution and human history. Listen, watch and explore more about Hollow and go deeper into the stories of the planet.
Explore the history of the planet with artist Katie Paterson and Zeller & Moye and their public artwork for Bristol, UK.
Hollow is a permanent public artwork created by artist Katie Paterson and architects Zeller & Moye and in association with members of the School of Biological Sciences for Bristols Royal Fort Gardens. Hollow houses a miniature forest of all the worlds trees.
Inside Hollow, you will discover over 10,000 unique tree species, which have been gathered by the artist from almost every country on the planet. Under your feet lie fossils, which span 390 million years, and above you thousands of unique tree samples connect across time and space, each with their own story to tell.
The relationship these trees have had with the environment, its water and its sunlight, and the plants, animals and fungi that lived with them, can be traced in the woods surfaces, once the living,
growing part of the tree: from the Indian Banyan Tree, under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment; to the Japanese Gingko tree in Hiroshima (a tree that witnessed and survived one of the darkest moments of human history); to common, but no less remarkable trees. Entering Hollow is to enter the history of our planet.
Hollow was commissioned in 2016 for Royal Fort Gardens in Bristol in South West England, to celebrate the opening of the University of Bristol's Life Sciences building. The University is renowned
internationally for its research in Life Sciences − addressing many of the acute challenges that currently face humanity, such as food security, the loss of biodiversity, and climate change.
This website offers the opportunity to explore the stories and responses to the artwork, to find out more about the artist, architects and partners involved. Click on ‘Experience Hollow’ to the right, to digitally explore each and every tree species contained within the artwork. Click on ‘Sculpture’ to scroll around a multidimensional view of the
interior; and ‘By piece’ to explore the full library of wood, either by common name, family type, or continent. Over 1,000 of the wood samples have stories to explore.
Pinus longaevaFamily Name
California, North America
"Methuselah" is a 4846 year old Great Basin bristlecone pine tree from the White Mountains of Inyo Country in Eastern California. It is one of the oldest known living non-clonal organism with an estimated germination date of 2833 BC.
"Methuselah" is located between 2,900 and 3,000 m above sea level in the "Methuselah Grove" within the Inyo National Forest.
Ficus benghalensisFamily Name
The tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment. The aerial roots recall the Cosmic Tree. Watering the foot of the tree and placing offerings there in the form of stones is supposed to bring happiness and especially fertility.
A Banyan is a fig that starts its life as an epiphyte: a plant growing on another plant. The fig seeds are predominantly dispersed by fruit-eating birds and the small seeds germinate in the cracks on a host tree. The tree has propagating roots which grow downwards as aerial roots which then form multiple
woody trunks when they reach the ground.
As the national tree of the Republic of India, the Indian Banyan is considered sacred, and temples are often built beneath the trees. Known in Hindu mythology as 'the wish-fulfilling tree', banyans represent eternal life and many Indian women water the roots and lay offerings, often in the form of stones, to bring happiness and fertility. In Hinduism, the leaf of the Banyan tree is believed to be the resting place for the god Krishna.
Atlantic City, New Jersey,
This sample was salvaged from the discarded remnants of the iconic and destroyed Atlantic City Boardwalk - in support of the victims of superstorm Sandy. The wood is pressure treated pine that has been stabilized with Resins. Superstorm Sandy arrived in late October 2012 and devastated the Eastern United States. From Florida to Maine, thousands of people were injured and left homeless. New Jersey and it's shore towns were hit particularly hard.
Araucaria araucanaFamily Name
Brazil, Chili, Argentina
The Monkey Puzzle Tree is on the Cities Listed Species. It was alive 200 million years ago and rubbed shoulders with the dinosaurs. Its spine-like needles acted as protection from ancient grazing animals now long extinct. It can live for 1,000 years and grows to 50m high with a trunk diameter of over 3m. It grows on the slopes of rocky volcanoes and its bark is fire resistant, so ‘islands’ of trees can even survive lava flows.
This unusual evergreen tree, native to the threatened forests of Chile, is so ancient it is
considered a living fossil. It has triangular, spiky, sharp leaves and bears large cones. It is considered the national tree of Chile. Due to its memorable, tail-like appearance, the Monkey Puzzle Tree is popularly cultivated in gardens around the world.
In Chile the Monkey Puzzle is called the Pehuén and is sacred to the local Pehuenche people: its large seeds – known as pinones, which take two years to mature – are an ancient staple of their diet. Monkey Puzzle forests have been fast destroyed and degraded due to logging, fire and grazing.
New York, North America
The Gilboa fossil forest, in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, has for several years been recognized as the the oldest known fossil forest, dating back 385 million years. It was unearthed for the first time since it was discovered and buried by dam workers back in the 1920s.
Fossil from a Forest that Gave Earth its Breath of Fresh Air. Wattieza was a genus of prehistoric trees that existed in the mid-Devonian that belong to the cladoxylopsids, close relatives of the modern ferns and horsetails. The 2005 discovery in Schoharie
County, New York, of fossils from the mid-Devonian united the crown of Wattieza to a root and trunk known since 1870, the fossilized grove of "Gilboa stumps" discovered at Gilboa, New York. These fossils have been described as the earliest known trees, standing 8 m (26 ft). This was a major milestone in the understanding of how plants and ecosystems evolved over time. The presence of forests most likely paved the way for more diversification because forests tend to create their own microclimates as well as foster new niches.
Wattieza trees covered vast swaths 385 million years ago, before even amphibians managed to clamber on to land, and had such an impact that they helped to change the planet's atmosphere. They were the monsters of their age and are thought not only to have changed the face of the planet but also to have altered even the chemical composition of the atmosphere.
Diospyros kakiFamily Name
A twig collected by the artist from the garden of haiku poet Kyorai’s hermitage in Japan. This quaint hermit’s cottage and garden was once the home of one of haiku master Matsuo Basho’s disciples. It bores the poetic name of “Hut of Fallen Persimmons” (Rakushisha). Mukai Kyorai (1651 - 1704) was one of Basho’s major disciples.
Here is the story how the cottage received its remarkable name. Kyorai had about 40 persimmon trees in the garden of his Saga cottage. In autumn, their fruit had ripened to a shiny orange. Too much
to eat on his own, Kyorai sold his persimmons. However, the night of the day before the fruit was going to be picked, a gale blew over the Arashiyama area - a name that itself means 'Stormy Mountain'. All the fruit was destroyed and Kyorai had to pay back the advance money he had received from the merchant. The loss of the persimmons was seen by Kyorai as a humorous lesson not to strive after worldly gain. On top of that, it led to a Satori experience: through the branches of the trees, now bare, Kyorai had an excellent view of Arashiyama.
He saw the mountain in a way he had never seen it before. The storm and Stormy Mountain proved not to be unconnected. Here is the haiku he wrote about it:
“master of persimmons” -
so close to the tree tops
The creation of Hollow was filmed for BBC Four's What Do Artists Do All Day? series. The documentary followed Katie Paterson over a ten-month period as she assembled the wood collection and created the artwork.
Watch the documentary below.
Watch the clip
As you enter Hollow all the world’s trees surround you. Locked within the samples of wood under your feet and above your head are many stories that explain the history of the planet. The tree samples can offer us clues to how we might tackle the challenges that face humanity; from food scarcity to climate change. Many of these trees have also witnessed pivotal moments in history that we can only imagine. Here two audio guides offer you the chance to consider these ideas in more depth and to unlock those stories hidden deep within Hollow.
Jon Bridle, Evolutionary Biologist, guides you through an inside view of Hollow, the evolution of species and the future of the planet.
Edson Burton, spoken word artist, takes you on a poetic journey through human history as witnessed by trees.
Imagine in 50 years time what the landscape of the globe might look like? How many of the trees that surround us now will have become extinct or changed beyond recognition.
To accompany Hollow, Situations in association with BBC Get Creative, launched an open call to build a Treebank in just 50 days.
The result is a digital forest for the future, with stories, illustrations and memories of trees from today. Treebank is an interactive time capsule that preserves our living memory of trees offering a snapshot of the world’s biodiversity.
Follow the link below to explore Treebank:www.treebank.online
Katie Paterson's make use of sophisticated technologies and specialist expertise to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical engagements between people and their natural environment. Combining a Romantic sensibility with a research-based approach and coolly minimalist presentation, her work collapses the distance between the viewer and the most distant edges of time and the cosmos.
Katie Paterson is regarded as an artist working at the forefront of her generation. She has exhibited internationally, from London to New York, Berlin to Seoul, and her works have been shown in major exhibitions including the Hayward Gallery, Tate Britain, Kunsthalle Wien, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Her artworks are represented in
collections including the Guggenheim, New York and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.
Katie was winner of the Independent’s Creative 30 award “for Britain’s most creative young person” and the winner of the Visual Arts category of the 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Awards, and was recently awarded an Honorary Fellowship at Edinburgh
University in recognition of her ”major contribution in fostering collaboration between the arts and sciences”.
The studio established a unique working method of extensive experimentation for the development of a project in order to articulate meaningful proposals for the contemporary world. Zeller & Moye has designed a wide range of projects at all scales from furniture design to large cultural buildings in different parts of the world.
Christoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye have been practicing architecture for more than 14 years
including work for international practices SANAA in Tokyo and Herzog & de Meuron in Basel and London, leading numerous projects such as the “Tate Modern Project” and the ”Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012”. Zeller & Moye are currently realising a memorial in Kurdistan, Iraq; a low-energy housing project in China; a design museum, two contemporary art galleries and a series of residential projects in Mexico; amongst others.
Christoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye teach at the AA Visiting Schools Berlin and Mexico, a master class in urban studies at the UIA Mexico City and have been jury members, lecturers and guest critics at various universities.
Hollow is free to visit and open to all. Hollow is located to the right of the Tankard's Close entrance to the gardens. The gardens can also be accessed via the entrance on Tyndall Avenue, just follow the path to the other side of the gardens. There is level access into Royal Fort Gardens and the area around Hollow. The entrance to Hollow is narrow with a low step inside. The floor, which comprises fossil fragments, is uneven. The interior is naturally lit and therefore may be dim on cloudy days or at dusk. We would advise only one or two people at a time enter Hollow to fully experience the work. Please tread carefully.
Royal Fort Gardens are open every day of the year and the interior of Hollow is open during daylight hours. Opening times may vary during the summer months and holidays are at the discretion of the University of Bristol.
After your visit, share your experience with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #BristolHollow
The £56.5 million Life Sciences building, opened by Sir David Attenborough in October 2014, is the University’s biggest construction project to-date and signifies its commitment to biological sciences research.
Situations is an arts organisation dedicated to commissioning and producing compelling and imaginative new forms of public art. For over a decade we have been supporting artists to make extraordinary ideas happen in unusual and surprising places, directly engaging in people’s lives and offering alternative ways in which to see, hear and connect to each other. In recent years, Situations has sparked a gold rush in Folkestone, UK (Michael Sailstorfer,
Folkestone Digs, 2014); towed an Arctic Island around the South West coast of England for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and gained 23,000 new citizens of the newly declared island nation (Alex Hartley, Nowhereisland, 2012) and sustained a continuous programme of performance for 552 hours with 1,000 performers in the ruin of Temple Church, Bristol (Thesater Gates, Sanctum, 2015). Situations is an Arts Council England National Portfolio organisation and is generously supported
by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the John Ellerman Foundation and the University of the West of England, Bristol. If you’d like to find out more about Situations, sign up to our mailing list.Situations mailing list
Fabricated by Millimetre Ltd
Web design by Hello Monday.
Sound by Adam Asnan and Carlo Amadio.
Ardkinglas Estate, Argyll, UK
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University; USA
Bedgebury National Pinetum, UK
Department of Wood Science & Engineering Xylarium, Oregon State University, USA
Herbario Nacional de México, Mexico
Keele University Arboretum, UK
Laboratory of Wood Anatomy and Xylarium of CNR-IVALSA National Research Council of Italy. Trees and Timber Institute. Italy
The National Botanic Garden of Wales, UK
The Pennsylvania State University, USA
Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere, Kyoto University, Japan
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, UK
Herbarium, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK
Teruven Wood Xylarium, The Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium
University of Bristol, Department of Life Sciences, UK
USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, USA
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, UK
Winkworth Arboretum, UK
University of Hull, UK
Yorkshire Arboretum, UK
Barry & Danielle James
James R. Coleman