One of Vancouver’s first tourist attractions was the hollow tree in Stanley Park. It stood out as a symbol of the massive wilderness that surrounded the developing city, a wilderness that has been shrinking ever since.
The tree has had its own official photographer, been spared by rezoning and was reinforced in 2009 by public funding, after the 2006 windstorm threatened its foundation. Now, the hollow tree will be the subject of a new public art exhibit by local artist and author, Douglas Coupland.
Coupland has been commissioned to create a full-scale replica of the infamous tree. His version will be made with steel-reinforced resin and will be coated with a gold patina. The golden stump will stand 13 metres tall and will weigh approximately 16,000 kilograms. The exhibit will also feature a large backdrop of a forest.
The golden tree will be displayed in the plaza of the new MC² development that is being built at the bottom of the Cambie corridor. It is estimated that 100,000 commuters will view the work each day from the Canada Line SkyTrain and vehicular traffic.
The piece is a fair distance from its inspiration, but Coupland hopes the new tree will inspire tourists and locals to seek out the original hollow attraction inside Stanley Park.
The publicly funded exhibit will undoubtedly have its haters, but Coupland hopes the piece will incite a new dialogue on ecology and the importance of forest management. “It shows us what we used to have and what we can have again in the future,” claim Coupland, “if we have a spirit of appreciating nature and if we realize that we are its custodian for better or worse.”
Coupland’s other public artworks in the City of Vancouver include the digital orca at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the Terry Fox Memorial in front of BC Place.