A fallen tree should never die quietly, never mind who’s around to hear it.
With the success of oneTree 2015 and oneTree 2017, the Bateman Foundation and Live Edge Design have once again partnered to bring you oneTree 2019. We invite you to join us in celebrating the life of a single tree through the beauty of art.
Meghan Johnson, an anthropology student at Camosun Colege, Victoria recently interviewed the owner of Live Edge Design and found of the oneTree concept, John Lore.
As a co-founder of Live Edge Design, how was it for you seeing this project come together, and how did it feel to see the final exhibit with all the art pieces?
I visited the tree before it came down and had an argument with a squirrel over whether his home was more important than the human homes beside the tree that were in danger because of the split in the trunk. I supervised the milling, drying and was involved in the wood selection for most of the artists. I designed a dining suite and door that I was very proud of, but when I saw all the pieces at the exhibit, I still could not fathom the variety, quality and creativity and the thousands and thousands of hours of work from more than 50 artists. I think we were all amazed and proud of each other.
You designed the table, titled "My Dinner With Andrew"- how did the inspiration for that come about, and what was that process like?
Originally I wanted to make a round table, but I could not cut the massive slab that, to me, represented the tree itself. Instead I designed a table using only that one plank of wood, bending the top down into the legs, keeping it simple in the mid-century modern style, with the live edged single slab giving it a west coast natural element of bringing nature indoors. Since the table was now “West Coast Modern”, I designed the chairs to match the same fusion of design. The name is a play on the 1981 classic movie “My Dinner with Andre”. According to my ring count the tree was planted in 1906, the same year the house next to it was built by Andrew Wright, who was to become a very influential citizen of Victoria. As we were making the table, I came to wonder what the conversation might be like if I had been able to sit down to dinner with Andrew at a table made from his walnut tree and recount his days in early Victoria. My female colleagues here pointed out that I do not know that Andrew planted the tree and perhaps it was his wife, who is mentioned in historical documents only as Mrs. Andrew Wright, common in the day.
Tell me a bit about Live Edge Design!
Furniture making has been a 23 year journey, becoming Live Edge Design in 2005. We have about 25 employees and make furniture for luxury west coast style homes as well as for hospitality in Canada and the USA, primarily from urban salvaged trees that we mill and dry ourselves.
What would you say was the purpose or mission of this exhibit? Were there certain themes or concepts that emerged?
These are the three pillars of the oneTree project: 1) To celebrate the history and importance of a single tree. It is unique for a living thing to stand in one spot for more than a century, providing shade, habitat, nutrients for the soil, sustenance for animals and humans, and even providing a playground for the local children. Many plant, animals and people miss this tree. 2) To showcase the great wealth of artistic talent in so many fields, turners, carvers, painters luthiers, jewelry makers, sculptors, and furniture makers. Mainly from Vancouver Island. 3) To demonstrate the economic value we can get from a tree. That we don’t need to ship a log to China or chop it into firewood. $440,000 worth of art came from this tree. In addition, we employed arborists, crane operator, videographers, millers, kiln operators, gallery workers and are bringing tourists to Victoria.
This project seemed to be very locally inspired with a unique backstory to it. Would you say it's representative of Victoria or Vancouver Island? How so?
The tree was a local celebrity. Most of the 51 artists are from Vancouver Island with their own backstories and their work is influenced by their surroundings. Vancouver Islanders are fascinated with this project because of their love for nature, the environment in general and the arts.