Production forests. Anyone who ever passes by knows the image: rows of trees, all the same species, the same age, the same distance from each other. Static and silent, waiting for the chainsaw. But appearances are deceiving. Because these trees are working hard!
The art project Boompijl Best depicts the hidden dynamics of the cultural landscape in the municipality of Best, with its characteristic poplar meadows. Eight temporary, wooden sculptures in the form of Tree Arrows visualize the journey of a tree: from falling seed to mature tree, further and further into the landscape. The project was developed by artistsTijs Rooijakkers and Vivian van Gaal commissioned by the municipality of Best in the context of the landscape laboratory and art route ‘Productive Nature’. From 15 September 2022, all Tree Arrows can be seen at various locations in Best.
A total of eight Tree Arrows have been launched, around nature reserve De Vleut, De Scheeken and in the village center. Four of them ‘fly’ like cartoonish sketches between the poplar avenues along the A2 highway. They are made of poplar wood and their bright colors refer to the marking paint that forest managers use to indicate which trees may be uprooted.
The other four landed at different locations in the center: at primary schools De Heydonck and De Zevensprong, in the Wilhelminapark, and on the Kapelweg. These tree arrows all have a different character and are produced in consultation with their immediate surroundings. For example, the arrowhead in the school garden of De Heydonck was made together with pupils and the arrow in the Wilhelminapark mirrors the nearby yellow sundial.
Many inhabitants from Best participated in the creation of Boompijl Best. For example, the Brabant Poplar Association helped to find suitable locations, landowners granted permission to use their sloping trees. And with the help of Tuurlijk! an educational program was developed. More than 600 primary school pupils participated in Tree Archery workshops. What should you sow now if you want to harvest later? Who or what determines in which direction you grow? Based on these questions, children got to work and made their own mini tree arrow. They launched these with a bow towards a growing miniature tree arrow forest full of intentions and visions of the future.
Film about wonder
Tree arrow Best is a temporary intervention and stays for a maximum of 3 years. To capture the project, filmmaker Maarten Berkers (MarblTV) has made a short, poetic film about an entrenched man finding his wonder in the landscape by seeing a sloping tree.
Context productive nature
Best and the poplar are inextricably linked. The clog and match industry was an important economic engine for the village in the 19th century. And although the clog has disappeared from the street scene, the bocage (or: coulisse) landscape still reveals how money was earned here in the past. And in the future. Because behind the scenes they certainly did not sit still. Municipalities and organizations such as Peppelhout and the Brabant Poplar Association are working on new, innovative, economical applications for poplar wood. There is a real lobby to get it certified as a sustainable building material. The poplar is popular again.
About the makers
Visual artist Tijs Rooijakkers makes large-scale sculptures that defy the laws of nature, such as the award-winning social art project Woensel Supertoll! in collaboration with rapper Fresku, the Van Abbemuseum and hundreds of Eindhoven residents. Vivian van Gaal is a curator and designer. Together they realize landscape art projects. Boompijl Best is part of their long-term art project Boompijl, an ode to skewed growth and the fighting spirit of nature.
Commissioned by: Municipality of Best
Concept: Tijs Rooijakkers and Vivian van Gaal
Partners: Tuurlijk!, Brabantse Populierenvereniging, boomprofesor,
Workshops: Karlijn de Groot
Film: Maarten Berkers,MarblTV
Photography: Max Kneefel
Powered by: Mondriaan Fund, Brainport Development, KunstLoc