Do trees die and go to heaven? Or do they live on to haunt their human fellers, as a symbol of the environmental handprint that mankind makes wherever he roams?
Artist Angela Palmer has filled Trafalgar Square with the jagged stumps of trees cut from the Ghanaian forests for her installation, Ghost Forest, which runs for a week. The stumps, brought at considerable effort from west Africa to London via truck and boat, lie on their sides, the endlessly complex web of their roots exposed like the capillaries of a body during surgery.
The effect of seeing these boreal behemoths scythed is powerful; Palmer demands nothing less. She spent a year in Ghana, a country where 90% of the rainforest has been cut down, and saw first-hand how aggressive logging practices threaten the fragile ecosystem. As a microcosm of planetary overconsumption of expendable resources, it's a powerful statement.
After their week in Trafalgar Square, the trees will be on the move again, travelling to Copenhagen and the climate conference scheduled for December. Whether the bark shown here will be stronger than the bite of those who wish to scupper a global environmental deal remains to be seen.
Ghost Forest is in Trafalgar Square until Sunday November 22nd, and is free. On Thursday, at 7pm, an Amazonian chief is scheduled to bless the trees in a special ceremony