This installation is located in Tomnafinnoge Wood in county Wicklow. This forest is one of the last ancient oak forests remaining in Ireland. Strapped to the living oak tree with a band of copper is a piece of 7,000 year old bog oak.
Bog oak does not petrify despite its age. The fallen tree is preserved in the bog in an anerobic environment for thousands of years and when it’s recovered it remains fresh and workable like any other recently harvested oak. It’s as if the bog oak has been sleeping for thousands of years and when you wake it, all of its life journey can be recovered by some careful questioning. Bog oak can reveal the most amazing data to the dendrochronologist, climate change, soil quality, human habitation, times of abundance and times of hardship. Everything leaves a trace. I read that the one thing that every living tree on the planet recorded was the atomic bomb testing. Long after we’re gone the trees will still be discussing our stupidity.
Draíocht is the Irish word for druidic magic, and I think of this installation of bog oak and copper as a kind of ancestral transmitter…tree listening to tree…like when you put a shell to your ear and hear the whisper of the sea. It’s also protective and supportive in difficult times, a device of sympathetic magic.