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688 Days: Remembering the Lemon Tree

Posted by Jonathan on August 29th, 2011


Extract from ‘The Lemon Tree and Me.’ The full text and images will be published in Spring 2012

The Lemon Tree & Me:
10 Months Later

Monday 17th January 2011: Today I received an email from Jeremy Webster of the Lincoln Collection informing me of the sad news that, despite every effort made, the lemon tree was dead. It was the kind of news that has a visceral affect and, whilst it was remarkable that the tree lasted for as long as it did, it was still unexpected.

Back on Tuesday 24th March 2010, when I received the somewhat bedraggled lemon tree from Jonathan Casciaini I had little notion of the quantity and quality of experience and knowledge that the Lemon Tree and Me project would bring. Now, 95 weeks later, the Lemon Tree and Me is coming to an end. The lemon Tree was with the Collection for 308 days which was a great achievement on their behalf.

It is the closeness of the relationship between The Lemon Tree & Me that has stayed with me and continues to engage my thoughts. The project sought to privilege an intimacy of knowledge gained through observation and experience. Such closeness tried to overcome the material, social and ethical distance that can occur in works that attempt to comment on situations or conditions that are evident but not experienced.

The relationship had no formal specifications of how to represent it but, nevertheless, seemed, at times, to open and connect thoughts and experiences inside of a domain of knowledge that tried to be exhaustive in its organisation. The organisation of the relationship seemed to be governed through many forms of knowledge; experiential, procedural, social, conceptual, qualitative, experimental, descriptive, quantitative and self knowledge.

Imbedded in the relationship there was a sense of a transcendental experience; an early knowledge remembered. This acted as glue within the co-relationship, underscoring, connecting and driving slow time and the need to respond intuitively. It enhanced the possibilities of imagined spaces between ecology and aesthetics.

There were times when the intense relationship felt cut off, isolated from everyday experiences on an island of conceptual and material localism. Conversely the island experience did teach me much about ‘what we have’ as I tried to make wider connections from within the relationship; bridges from the island.

The project was drenched in intricate interactions connecting within and without the complexity of the relationship. As such, negotiating such complexities embodied the realities of uncertainty and trust as essential constituents of these bridges.

The values of the Lemon Tree and Me were grounded in a wonder of our relationship within the natural environment and sort to transpose this sense to other situations that are common to us all.
Tuesday 8th February 2011: Jonathan brought the lemon tree back from the Lincoln Collection.

Wednesday 9th February 2011: Today I removed the lemon tree from the soil. I washed the root system and preserved it.

This last vestige of the tree sits in my studio like some ancient relic. But what an amazing relic it is. The roots of the lemon were the core of where the constructed soil met the natural systems of the tree; both ecological station and vehicle; a matrix as both heart and an echo of the complexities of the relationship.

The Lemon Tree & Me evolved as an intense co-relationship where the material expression of the work was the result of that relationship; a working from life; a love song; sung for 688 days.
The Lemon Tree and Me (Tuesday 24th March 2009 – Wednesday 9th February 2011)

Tags: 2011