Keeping Fondren Funky: Tree Art by Bill Taylor

Painted juniper tree snag by Bill Taylor

It’s standard practice to cut down living trees and make them into painted fences or decorated trinket boxes, but rare to leave a dead tree standing and turn it into sculpture.

Dead juniper tree sculpture

When it became clear that Bill Taylor’s old juniper tree had started to give up the ghost, the slowly emerging snag seemed destined for a stumpery – a quirky kind of log pile. Offers to ‘helpfully’ tidy it up came from around the neighbourhood, but Bill politely demurred. He had another notion.

Tree snag with brightly coloured branches

The tree’s limbs naturally intertwined at ground level and lengthened into gracefully expressive forms. Bill painted each limb a bold colour, switching shades higher in the branches to create a blocky pattern.

Tree art textures: red and lavender

The textures of the finished sculpture are subtle and interesting. The juniper snag provides gnarls, sinews and ripples. Sun and rain are already working their magic, so the colours are washed and underlying contrasts revealed.

Angst 2020 by Bill Taylor

When asked if he’d named it, Bill said it did originally have a name: Angst 2020, he thought, or something similar. Viewed upwards (as above) or sideways on (as in the second picture), I can sense some of that feeling. It’s one of many projects carried out worldwide when our social spheres had shrunk and we were left with our own imaginative resources.

Painted tree snag by Bill Taylor

My favourite shot of Bill’s sculpture is this moody one, taken in late afternoon when the light was languid, where the painted tree seems to be reaching out to the living trees around it.

Whether or not seeing this lifts your day, as it does mine, Bill is certainly doing his bit to Keep Fondren Funky, a local project designed to free the people who live in this artsy neighbourhood to do their own thing.

Shared for Marsha and Cee’s Public Art Challenge.

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