Thursday, March 11, 2010


One of the huge attractions at Birr Castle Demesne is the Red Tree Trail which is a marked collection of 50 trees of distinction. The small guide book, The Red Tree Trail: 50 Trees of Distinction was kept with me during my reflections and roamings. My rebellious nature didn't allow me to follow the trail sequentially; I liked to come upon a tree by chance and then find out more about it. I missed some, but I believe I found the ones that were important for me to know. After returning home I explored some of the trees in more detail.

One of my followers and fellow Birr Castle Demesne dweller, Sherwood Harrington illustrated the trail in great detail through photography here. This collection of trees is like a globe trotting experience which takes you from Mexico to China in several hours of walking.

I've represented the trail with two very different works in my series. My magnolia painting was posted early in my blogging. My latest is of this tree first sighted during one of my early morning bench reflections.

Where I come from trees don't get this big. For a better sense of it check out Sherwood's Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant redwood) .

Sequoiadendron giganteum which comes from The Sierra Nevada range in California is now efficiently conserved following reduction in the species by the lumbering industry.

It was introduced to Ireland in 1855 and the best specimens have grown to 40 m high. It towers above the vegetation around it and can be seen across fields and hedges. I imagined it as a garden lighthouse. Standing next to it made me feel very insignificant.

After running through many ideas about how to best represent this stately tree, I resorted to this composition. Different I know from the amount of obsessive detail in my other pieces. This is mostly textured collage and acrylic paint. Little painting occurred except for the sign which I've done four times and decided it is now perfect (which it isn't). The piece also references the scientific focus of the Demesne owners who for centuries were involved in the collecting and cultivation of new species of plants and trees.


Kathy said...

I like your concept for this painting. I'ts really interesting and draws-in the viewer. I also think it's a nice complement to the other paintings you've done in this series (at the least, the ones I've seen).

layers said...

love trees, and love your minimal very textured piece here.

Sherwood Harrington said...

The red badge looks just fine to me, Margaret!

I actually doubt that anyone has ever walked the entire red tree trail in one go; it would take a particularly tunnel-vision to be able to do that, surrounded as the trail is with other delights all the way. But going back to it from time to time, making sure to visit all parts of it at least once if one is blessed with the days necessary, is a great way of making sure to visit almost all parts of the Demesne.

I'll be interested to see this summer what, if anything, has been done with #39. In 2006, that number on the trail was a Chinese Cedar which appeared to be pretty thoroughly dead.

Shayla said...

I like the perspective you chose for your tree. I can just imagine how it must be to stand under a tree 40 m high. Powerful! How lucky you are to have such a place nearby.