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Gabriela Albergaria: hither and thither

The tree collection at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden plays a major role in creating the Garden’s unique sense of place. As you enter its ancient walls the trees act as the dominant feature, peppering the landscape with centuries of botanical history. From the English yew, which was planted by the first curator in 1645 and is the earliest tree in the collection, to the newer plantings of the late 20th century they tell the story of the Garden in macrocosm.

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The Botanic Garden has long been a source of inspiration for artists, writers and other visitors. The Portuguese artist Gabriela Albergaria was awarded a Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation residency at the Garden in 2009-10 and it is entirely appropriate that she elected to focus on the tree collection during the course of her time in Oxford.

The major outcome of her residency was a publication that appeared in early 2011 called hither and thither, which falls somewhere between a scholarly guide and an artist’s book. A second outcome is a semi-permanent site-specific commission for the Harcourt Arboretum. The Harcourt Arboretum is an integral part of the plant collection of the Botanic Garden, and Dead tree (waiting) comprises a shingle oak buried up to the base of its crown, which is being permitted to rot in situ.

Commissioned by the University of Oxford Botanic Garden in association with the Ruskin School of Art and supported by funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.