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Culture

Explore The Magic Of Forests At This South Bank Art Exhibition

By Alex Landon

Among the Trees

Among the Trees immerses you in the beauty and tranquillity of forests.

If there’s one thing I miss from my childhood in the countryside, it’s the ability to step out the door and be amongst the woods in under five minutes. Clapham Common just doesn’t have quite the same tranquillity, you know? Anyway, I think I’ve found a suitable remedy for my lament – and maybe yours too – as recently-reopened art exhibition Among the Trees has returned to the Hayward Gallery after the lockdown.

Among the Trees

Spanning some 50 years of art, Among the Trees collates the work of 38 leading international artists, including the likes of Tacita Dean, Peter Doig, Steve McQueen, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Rachel Sussman. The installations invite you to reflect on how we think about, use, and interact with forests and trees, as well as illuminating their beauty. Among the Trees was originally timed to coincide with the landmark 50th anniversary of Earth Day – before the pandemic put paid to that – and will run until October 31. Here are just some of the incredible pieces you can see:

Mariele Neudecker, ‘And Then the World Changed Colour: Breathing Yellow’

Among the Trees

Originally appearing at Dulwich Picture Gallery, Neudecker’s sculpture features a living landscape submerged underwater, and suffused with an eerie yellow light.

Eva Jospin, ‘Forêt Palatine’

Among the Trees

Evoking the lowland forests of Germany, Jospin’s rather Grimm-looking work is carved out of layers of cardboard.

Shi Guowei, ‘Pine’

Among the Trees

A grand painting which captures the beauty of a pine tree, ‘Pine’ will be on display at the Hayward Gallery.

Anya Gallaccio, ‘Because I could not stop’

Among the Trees

Turner Prize-nominated Gallachio uses temporary materials like fruits and flowers in her work, lending them a poignant urgency.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, ‘Horizontal – Vaakasuora’

Among the Trees

A video portrait of a 16-metre-tall Finnish spruce flipped landscape, Ahtila’s work with give you a sense of the sheer size of these trees.

Ugo Rondinone, ‘Cold moon’

Among the Trees

Rondinone’s sculpture is an aluminium cast of an ancient olive tree, twisted, gnarled, and towering above gallery-goers.

As you wander through Among the Trees, you’ll encounter arboreal champions from across the globe, be it Israeli olive orchards, Colombian rainforests, or Scandinavian woods. The exhibit is spread across three distinct sections, with the first raising notions of complexity and connectivity in nature, and showcasing the grand scale of trees.

Among the Trees
Jennifer Steinkamp, Blind Eye

The second mixes nature and culture, with the human impact upon trees becoming readily apparent in the photographs of Robert Adams, for instance. Finally, the final section focuses on the passing of time, nodding to the long lifespan of trees, which oftentimes outlive us – check out Rachel Sussman’s photo of a 9500 year-old spruce tree for a real showstopper, or Jennifer Steinkamp’s video projection, which charts the cycle of a birch forest through the seasons.

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure to leave enchanted and informed…

Check out even more brilliant London art exhibitions here!

Practical information

Open now until October 31, from 11am-7pm Wednesdays to Saturdays, and 10am-6pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Adult tickets are £12, and pre-booking is essential.

Also published on Medium.