Workshops, May 2012
The Southern Beech (Nothofagus), is a survivor from the ancient past. Over 200 million years ago the Antarctic continent was covered in rich, dazzling forests and existed as part of the the Gondwanan super-continent. Gondwana was host to a huge variety of flora and fauna for many millions of years; ancient species of plants and creatures, some of which are now only known to us through fossilised fragments, ghostly memories of their once colourful lives.
Core samples taken from the ice below Antarctica show fossilised remains of SOuthern Beech species that survive in the southern hemisphere today- in Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Argentina and Chile. Chile is home to nine of the thirty-six known species, and one natural hybrid, all of which are endemic.
The trees’ timber is highly prized for use in furniture and handicrafts, however a threat is also posed by Chile’s paper pulp industry, which clears swathes of native endangered forest to make way for quick- growing, non-native Pine and Eucalyptus plantations.
In the run-up to my research trip to Chile, I ran paper-making sessions at Eden, recycyling old into new. I am now creating an installation for Eden’s Wild Chile site, which will share the essence of the Southern Beech forests.