IN THE PINES 2011 - 2013
The humble plastic christmas tree that is found in so many lounge rooms during the festive season erupted from suburbia into a moveable forest that occupied Federation Square for the month of December over three years – 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Throughout each December the installation hosted a number of events that activated and transformed the forest of 250 trees. All these events where free to the public and most importantly for us, took place in the square and amongst the trees, not on the stage. These events included music nights by Craig Woodward and friends and The Hoodangers, free family portraits on weekends by Hannah Courtin-Wilson, the gifting of hundreds of small olive trees and a series of posters by artists and designers that were distributed along Melbourne train lines.
The program concluded with an orphans christmas day picnic on the 25 December allowing families and individuals to bring a picnic lunch into the square and watch a film and relax in the company of strangers. We hope that this is the beginning a tradition in Melbourne of a christmas lunch at Fed Square each year.
In The Pines is about allowing the public to step inside a forest and out of a city as they move through the main plaza of Federation Square.
'In The Pines' is a folk song dating back to the 1870s. It forms the basis for over 160 different recorded renditions with each generation bringing its own interpretation. The folk tradition of Christmas lends itself to the same sort of multitude of meaning and as such has the ability to escape a fixed or conservative single interpretation. It is with this in mind that we have linked the iconic Christmas pine with the song 'In The Pines'. These are The Projects we do together 2012
POSTERS BY ARTISTS FOR THE PROJECT
FAMILY PORTRAITS IN THE PINES
On paper the concept sounds gruesomely liable to fail, vulnerable to appearing cheaply done, to being mocked and damaged, to ultimately meeting the unloved fate of so many good-ideas-at-the-time, as has that poor train wreck of an Observation Wheel. Something about the forest, however, defies this destiny. Christmas wears an armour which protects its spirit no matter how crudely its symbols are presented, and indeed it could be argued that Christmas thrives on tackiness - that eye-gouging tinsel, flashing lights, poorly sung carols and dogs in reindeer hats are what keeps it alive. This is, of course, what The Projects was acknowledging when it trucked 150 artificial trees to a public gathering place: that Christmas is not about High Art, and that this is a joyous thing. Christmas is an event of the people. Yet, oddly, what has been created amid the square's concrete dunes, in the shadow of the giant screen which never shuts up waffling, is something peculiarly remindful of an art gallery.
One stands in the midst of the simple, undecorated smaller trees and looks around, and there's an air of spaciousness and lightness, a strange serene hauntedness as there is in a gallery or a cathedral - in fact, as there is in a real forest. The trees give off no smell, their leaves, softly coarse as whiskers, hardly ruffle in the breeze, they are utterly soundless. The big Tree towers over them, monumental as a masterpiece, tastefully festooned with just a dark angular star and some shiny red baubles, each the size of a small bowling ball. Scattered on the ground are circular red rugs, flattened reflections of these baubles.
Sonya Harttnet, The Age 24 December 2011