Marvel at Tania Kovats' TREE in the gallery ceiling. This slice through the 200-year-old oak tree is presented like a vast living organism placed on a microscope slide. The branches stretch across the gallery ceiling with the ceiling's grid-like panels forming an architectural frame for the piece. At over 17 metres long, TREE will be the Museum's largest botany specimen on display.
Tree-top branches of the installation reach out across the gallery ceiling and beyond into an imaginary space. The ceiling installation took 6 days to complete.
The majestic 200-year-old oak tree chosen by Tania Kovats in the Longleat Estate forest. It was growing here at the time Charles Darwin was alive. Its original girth was 356cm. 200 oak saplings were planted in its place after it was felled. Oak trees are at the end of their productive life when they are about 150 years old. © Tania Kovats
The oak planks were pieced together in a London studio ready for installation. ‘First I had to find the right tree, fell it, map and number it as it was cut up into planks. I then had to craft the planks back into a tree,’ explains Tania Kovats. Many wood experts were involved in the process.
An oak leaf specimen from the living tree is featured alongside lichen, moss and insects in a display case outside the gallery. These were growing on the oak tree at the time it was felled.
These insect specimens are on display in the plant and insect display case outside the gallery. They were found during a survey of the highly complex ecosystem of the original oak tree, carried out in the Longleat forest in 2008.
A limited edition of 60 signed artworks called BRANCH has been created by Tania Kovats to commemorate TREE, from the same oak. One is on display at the gallery entrance.
An image of Charles Darwin's Tree of life sketch is displayed in the gallery. ‘It is as if you are standing looking over Darwin’s shoulder as the thought emerges. The tree is a model of connectivity, ancestry and genealogy,’ says Tania Kovats of the sketch that helped inspire her artwork. © Syndics of Cambridge University Library.© Reproduction from Charles Darwin, Notebook B, 1837-1838.© Syndics of Cambridge University Library.
Tania Kovats is a British artist working primarily in the exploration of landscape. Here she is by the special Darwin tree planted near Longleat House. The Darwin tree is one of 200 oak saplings planted on the estate to replace the original oak tree used in the installation. Recent major works by Kovats include The Museum of the White Horse (2007) and MEADOW (2006).
Visit Tania Kovats' Museum of the White Horse