Agnes Arellano Sculptor

Dead Trees (Duhat)



While my sculpture has been known mostly as white, life-sized, live cast figures in plaster or cold-cast marble set in their own environment, I have been exploring other materials, one of which is DEAD TREES. For years now, I have been collecting urban debris - tree trunks, root stumps cut and uprooted at construction sites. Each piece I pick up fills me with dread at how recklessly we continue to disregard our trees and our environment.

By salvaging a tree before it completely disappears, doing something to bring out whatever beauty is left in it - albeit so briefly - I assuage my guilt and hope that others are so reminded.

Dead trees might have already been abandoned by the spirits that used to inhabit them but I'm taking a chance. Before their dwelling completely disintegrates, I would like to give them back some Life, Life that I draw from Art and offer back to Nature, who nourishes all Life.

The intervention seems to be premised on my listening while the tree speaks, telling me what suits him/her best.

The duhat tree which I first used here was just a hollow log that had been spurned by a thesis student of mine who deemed it unfit for carving. But the duhat was curvaceous and she had two hollows for breasts. So I thought of clothing her. And she said:

"Clad me in poison!"

So I sheathed her in a lead Samurai warrior's armour - also to protect her. Her bark which had long ago been used by our old people for medicine had been replaced by the silvery sexy gown of a seducing torch singer.

Now she says,

"Watch it!"