Photo of a tree in Stockwood © 2019 Jin Choi
Stockwood Discovery Center, Luton, UK
Scheduled for April 2022 - December 2022
All images © 2019 Choi+Shine Architects
The magnificent and luscious trees in Stockwood inspired The Trees in Luton; we wanted to capture the beautiful canopies of leaves overlapping with light, the delightful embraces of the children and their curious hideouts, the breeze through the rustling branches and their patterned shadows on our face.
Luton, once known for its lace making in addition to its famous millinery, has one of the best collections of old lace patterns for Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire bobbin lace. The lace collection at the Luton Museum draws together materials reflecting every facet of an industry which was once of considerable economic and social importance across the East Midlands. The lace pattern for the Trees reflect the fascinating geometric patterns found in nature and aspires to combine them with the needle point lace collection from Luton Museum. The mathematical repetition and the subtle variation within the orderly and cohesive pattern of this project encourages meditative contemplation.
Reticella cover17th - 18th Century. Luton Museum Collection
The Trees interact with natural light during the day, and glow when illuminated at night. At night, the mysteriously glowing large tree in lace create a sense of magic as if we are transported to different time and place. Mysteriously glowing, diaphanous trees invite visitors to come in to see the people, park and the sky and rediscover their world through this visual filter. At night, the occupants will glow within the lacy room, creating an illusion of ethereal levitation, while the they become part of the artwork. During the day, the lace surface of the Trees reflects, absorb and retransmit sunlight, casting intricate, patterned shadow that creates a visual interplay of light.
The lace Trees celebrate Luton’s industrial tradition and craftsmanship of lace making, while symbolically weaving different people and cultures of Luton, and the past with the future of the city. Generally, lace is used as an embellishment, a special celebration for milestones of our life. The Trees in lace are feminine, intricate and transparent, creating visual poetry that celebrates the Luton’s cultural heritage and ultimately, the new departure of the city for the future.
With the help of Museum Makers, the project calls for local volunteers, first to crochet segments of the Trees, then to sew the crochet pieces together. While crocheting, the volunteers post their progress to dedicated social media webpages, sharing their work and communicating with each other. Through the virtual and real time interaction and collaboration, everyone will share their crochet progress, checking if they are following the detailed instructions and patterns created by the artist. Once all the lace pieces are crocheted, local volunteers will work together in person to join the crocheted pieces forming large segments, ready for installation. Through the process, the volunteers bond closely and create a true sense of community, while everyone shares ownership of the work to achieve a single goal: to create a beautiful work together. Skills learned from generations before connects us with the memories from the past and also with the people from the area whom we have never known.
Children at Stockwood Discovery Center, Luton © 2019 Jin Choi
“Trees serve as spiritual teachers of sorts, and both humans and wildlife are attracted to them for the refuge and support they provide. An interesting thing to consider is how cultures across the world form similar traditions related to nature. Take for instance, a wishing tree. A wishing tree is essentially an individual tree which has been chosen specifically, and is used for offerings and wishes. These trees are identified as having a special traditional, spiritual, or cultural significance. Generally, people will come to these trees and make offerings (in the form or notes, flower, coins, and more) to have a wish granted, or a prayer heard” - Wikipedia
Once the Tress are installed, visitors to Stockwood will complete the artwork by writing wishes on small pieces of paper, and hanging them until the tree is full. The process of wishing transforms the art work and is visible throughout the exhibition. The participatory and ephemeral aspect of the project creates a shared memory which contributes to the sense of place.
Wishing Tree in Korea
If you would like to participate
in our future crochet projects,
please send us an email to:
skim [at] choishine.com
The design and images of The Trees are copyright 2019, Choi+Shine Architects and may not be used without written permission.