Trees are our largest living companions. Their longevity can easily exceed ours. In the woods or the forest we feel at home, safe in their company, along with myriads of other life forms.
In the city we used to adore our street trees. Our dwellings were made from the trees around us, insides trimmed with their produce.
But now we spurn the warmth of their wood, we no longer value the breathing canopy above us.
This collection explores the Lost Trees in the city of Ottawa and invites us to contemplate what we are forsaking.
Click on an image to view a larger version. To scroll through the whole series, you may prefer to view the gallery.
Even in death the tree provides
nutrients and support for new growth.
Decay gives nursery life to new trees
Whereas our distorted poor reflection
of life in urban glass
neglects this vital principle.
Lampposts, sentinels, look on.
A Lost Tree
And that ‘life’ pushes out the arboreal life,
a rampant ‘e’ struggling
to escape the rectilinear bricks.
And serried ranks of identical dwellings
overwhelm the individual, tree-scaled homes.
Even windows seem to have been forgotten in this aspect, which highlights the “mechanical rooms” by making them two storeys greater.
Until communication towers are
the only sensible adornment in the blank,
eyeless walls and rooflines.
Uncertainty attempts to camouflage
with shades of blue and inharmonious
And balconies that offer the only status symbol
in an otherwise top heavy structure.
With orthogonal, Cartesian mapping of
distorted other worlds towering over
the lofty and inspiring elements of the past.
But in vain the spires reach, or the trees struggle,
to speak their wisdom against the windful canyons
of urban excess.
And the Red Line is passed, trees now lost
irretrievably against the jumble of styles and grey brick.
Until even the spirit of the trees escapes,
unnoticed as a wisp of cloud from the blackness.
And the only clouds are then reflections of the sky
in the banal glass and looming cranes
of further havoc.
Church and its Tree
Soon to be dwarfed by 33 storeys,
and demolished for even more,
this lone tree and lonelier bastion
of community is enveloped.
Harbinger of doom
And reflects within it the disease
that will soon carry it too away.
Pride of the “place to be and to be seen”,
towering above our World Heritage Site
and announcing what?
More nondescript platitudes of washed out pastels
uncertain window lines
rows of giant slabs of glass
to hide or pretend grandeur?
As some would rather do with the entire edifice
that was used to pretend this was going to be
a “Public Space, a Destination”.
And stake our assertion of Dominion,
free as a wind like the trees below.
Limply mirrored in other harbingers of despair.
Or oversize billboards of Shopify and KPMG,
monuments to prosperity.
And luxuriously appointed, or so they claim.
do buildings not stand without words?
But not Luxurious
And if only words,
do the writers realise the bitter irony?
Or the stupendously ridiculous hyperbole?
When the blank blackness is all
they offer to the cityscape?
Gluckstein was inspired in a city of wondrous tree-lined streets with human scale Buildings dignified by external detail and restful canals. Not a black and grey monotony
Trees which we are losing or have lost,
even the caution cones are scattered to the wind.
So we are unable to have an ArtHaus
without more blackness overwhelming it?
As towers encroach the vanishing vistas
of the hills that once inspired us.
Will we ever stop the darkness?
is this Pre-Grenfelled cladding?
The Root of all Evil
Or is Cash in a Flash our gold desire?
Yes, there were humans in this city.
In a vanishing flash of golden colour.
But quickly pressed into identical rounds
or squares. Your choice abounds.
All destined for Armaggedon and
searing light that removes
all dross of superfluous and inconvenient organics.
Can we find our Lost Trees?
And renew the vision, faithfully held by a few,
that regrowth is possible?