This massive installation is part of the land-art exhibition 'Touch Wood' at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens. It's magical, especially on a misty grey day, to approach any of these epic sculptures of wood across a sweeping lawn framed by thoughtful gardens; but Salix Iterum is unique amongst them.
First of all, Salix Iterum is made of willow, so unlike the works involving hard woods, the lifespan of this piece will be just a couple short years. The internal scaffold for the intricately twined panels is made of strong spruce poles and the highest spikes are well over two storeys tall; but the panels themselves are of willow. Compared to maple or cedar, which can last longer than a human lifespan, a cut willow withe endures but a moment, a few years of exposure at most.
Second, Salix Iterum is directly linked to patterns in nature through the mathematical relationships of its spaces, repetitions and weave structure. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, mathematicians and biologists have made great strides in using the complex mathematics of chaos theory, fractals, logarithmic spirals and the like to understand the natural forms of everything from trees and seaweed to sunflowers, cabbages and snail shells. Human weavers have been creating less mathematically complex patterns for thousands of years, possibly tens of thousands; but in Salix Iterum, the weaver's art has been layered with nature's mastery of these complex relationships.
Lastly, the form of Salix Iterum goes against traditional associations with willow and the current romanticism about nature: the soft, supple, gentle plant that makes handsome laundry baskets and bucolic fences takes on a defiant, spiky, aggressive character in this piece. It stands as a reminder of nature's inherent vigour and ambivalence toward humanity, at a time when we are obsessed with ourselves in our destruction of it.