Forthcoming solo exhibition at Art Affairs Gallery, Veemkade 354, Amsterdam from April 20th-June 23rd. Opening Friday 20th of April from 4-7pm.
The Japanese Elm is an intense study of a particular tree in the Hortus Botanicus Leiden. The detailed patterning characteristic of this species, gives a textual strength to the drawings.
As many trees in the Botanic Gardens this has a history: both Japanese Elm examples were brought to Leiden by Philipp Franz von Siebold after his first visit to Japan (1823-1829). In their country of origin these large trees were prized for their structural form and their colour.
Japanese elm (Zelkova serrata) belongs to the Ulmaceae family; its Japanese name is Keyaki. The two specimens in the Hortus botanicus Leiden, were imported by the famous traveller and scientist Phillip Von Siebold after his first visit to Japan (1823-1829). The leaves are lettuce green in the spring, they make the sound of sand on a beach in the late summer and grow as yellow as a lemon in the autumn. They are the last trees in the garden to let their leaves fall before winter- very decorative, with the fine small twigs. In winter the bark is a nice feature, and the fan shaped silhouette of the trees. Mark the small round buds waiting for next spring – and when the young leaves appear, try to spot the very tiny flowers and minuscule fruits.
Hanneke Jelles, Head of Education, Hortus Botanicus Leiden, April 2018
This tree project is a vehicle for the understanding of a particular tree specimen, a recognition of the history involved and von Siebold’s role as one of the foremost collectors of plants, whose collection today continues to have contemporary relevance and be the subject of research.
By focusing on an individual plant, its exact nature can be more closely understood on an aesthetic level. It is both nest-like with upwardly extending tree trunks and it has a solidity tempered by the delicacy of its more fragile leaves. The contrast that exists from its massive scale and the etched patterns that dance within the bark makes it profoundly intriguing.