Family Tree Commissions
Family Tree, 2004, graphite & silver ink on Fabriano 4 paper, 86x140 cms
Since the 1990s, we have been fascinated by the cultural significance of the Oak and have used its motifs - from acorn and leaf through to mature standards and eventual decay - throughout our work. We focus on its geometry in Trees of Life, inspired by countless early European and Asian depictions with which we’ve been familiar since childhood and within which we organise collectors' genealogical data.
Historical illustrations often began with a generation that traces itself back to a single, usually male, ancestor. Meanwhile, the contemporary family tree is typically a celebration of a union in the present between two families, supported by a cast of thousands - largely undepicted - going back into prehistory, the impossible aim being to fix an ephemeral moment for posterity. Beautiful though they often are, these pyramid formats can't reflect the complexity of information that's now available.
Our Trees play with both of the aforementioned forms: within them, we hope to communicate the reality - that all human life forms one messy matrix, extending as much outwards to a vast, living 'forest' system as it does into the past and future. Our trees become an unashamedly incomplete, often chaotic, root and branch system, according to the available data. Empty cloud bubbles await new generations; tuberous chambers underground recognise forgotten lines, acknowledging their tiny part within the immense mycelium.
While extensive genealogical data is always a boon to start with, we like to take the time to help fill in gaps and research family themes and events to enrich the imagery. We attempt to make visual sense of the sometimes-overwhelming wealth of information available in the internet age. With this project, we aim to celebrate the ties between living family, loved ones remembered and ancestors discovered, and hope to offer the collector a genuine and very personal heirloom for generations to come.
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