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This time next year things are going to be different, Commissioned by Parabola for The Tatton Park Biennial, Tatton Park, Cheshire, 2010.
Wood, Water-based Wood Stains, Hessian, Ratcheting Straps

Photos: Peter Hope

We tell stories, in part, to explore possible choices that might lead to feared or hoped for futures. In Italo Calvino’s novel The Baron in the Trees he tells the story of a young boy, Cosimo, who, after an argument with his father, the Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondo, escapes to the treetops of the family’s estate from where he refuses to come down and proceeds to live out the rest of his days. Although imaginary, the landscape Calvino depicts is based on the region of Liguria from where, he tells us, “the trees have almost disappeared today.” The story is, in part therefore, a lament for a lost time and a lost place. Part fairy tale and part allegory the story offers a seductive description of a life lived above ground:

Now it was a whole different world, made up of narrow curved bridges in the emptiness, of knots or peel or scores roughening the trunks, of lights varying their green according to the veils of thicker or scarcer leaves, trembling at the first quiver of the air on the shoots or moving like sails with the bend of the tree in the wind. While down below our world lay flattened, and our bodies looked quite disproportionate and we certainly understood nothing of what he knew up there – he who spent his nights listening to the sap germinating from cells, the circles marking the years inside the trunks, the mould enlarging its patches quivering under the north wind.

Italo Calvino, The Baron In The Trees, 1957