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Make A Forest

Designers, artists and creatives from around the globe are invited to design an artificial tree. The goal? Create a culturally diverse forest and raise awareness along the way.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 09-06-2011

During the International Year of the Forests - announced by the UN - the Make a Forest (MAF) project aims to raise awareness for our woods and woodland conservation.

Initiated by Anne van der Zwaag en Joanna van der Zanden, the Make a Forest Project works together with with cultural institutions and schools, artists, designers and architects to create and connect a network of artistic trees. Driven by their background in art history and an affinity with multidisciplinary, social projects, Van der  Zwaag and Van der Zanden created this cultural manifestation.

Van der Zwaag explains: "Through creativity Make a Forest addresses an important social topic, the project not only connects nature and culture but also shows the potential sharing cultural and social knowledge can have."
Worldwide, creative tree projects are initiated and symposia and discussions are held on the subject. MAF has been set up in such a way that cultural institutions (museums, academies, universities) can join the manifestation under any circumstances, even with limited resources.

So who is joining in? "At the moment there are 25 institutions from around the world in the programme," says Van der Zwaag. "It is important to create a network of culturally diverse people from all kinds of disciplines, to ensure we can presents as many different visions on the subject as possible."

Asking artists and designers to work with the tree theme is not an entirely foreign thing. Just think back to Mondriaan's Gray Tree, Vincent van Gogh's Mulberry Tree or the Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt. "We discovered that a number of Dutch designers were already working with the tree theme, such as Christien Meindertsma. The designer had made a 15-metre long toy train from a Dutch, self-chosen tree.  Meindertsma's Tree Track was the kick-off for the Dutch MAF and will be given a permanent spot this summer at Radio Kootwijk."

"The next Dutch tree project will be by the CBK Rotterdam, a collaboration with New Zealand artist Regan Gentry," Van der  Zwaag continues. "We hope to get a broad audience excited about this project. Get people involved who wouldn't usually be interested in culture or nature, yet also creative professionals, students, scientists, and even councilors and businesses. We're not just planting trees, we're sowing a idea."

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