Making A Stand
City Square, Leeds
As a criticism against the wastefulness of temporary artworks, Making A Stand offers a haven for natural reflection, presenting itself as a vertical stack of timber in the busy City Square in Leeds. The artwork has been commissioned by Leeds 2023 as part of their Year of Culture and is testament to the city’s beginnings from the Forest of Leodis. For six months, City Square will be a place where the natural world and the urban realm collide, linked through the supply chain that connects one to the other.
Making It Stand
The 7 meter tall timber fins, with their bark and pith still (mostly) intact stands as a challenge to its context. Lightly touching the ground and connected through a canopy web of steel wires and struts, the sculpture provides a synaptic bridge between standing trees and one of the most ubiquitous household materials; wood.
Timber Supply Chain
A typical supply chain for timber in construction projects includes many phases, from growing, felling, planking and processing, through to fabrication, construction and end of life – with a lot of transport in between. The further down the supply chain, the more bespoke a material becomes as greater specification limits its reusability.
Making A Stand uses timber towards the start of the supply chain, after the planking phase. Following circular economy principles, light touch processing and a hard-working structural canopy have been designed to limit impact on the timber fins to support their return to the supply chain.
The whole process has been tracked, so each timber ‘fin’ can be followed all the way back to its exact stump. 60 year old Douglas Fir was chosen for its durability, size and strength as a species that supports biodiversity more than other softwood trees planted for their timber.
Origins of the Title
The artwork’s title refers to the forestry term for a group of trees managed together. ‘Making A Stand’ also refers to the idiom ‘to assert an opinion’, acknowledging the many nuances to both the production and conservation of forests. A third interpretation of the title emerged through the complex structural design process of actually making it stand.
Bringing the Timber Supply Chain Online
An online resource has been created to share further resources engaging with the timber supply chain. Animations examine how the amount of carbon absorbed fluctuates through the lifespan of the tree, the six month installation, and beyond. The important message of the online resource teaches that if we look after our timber, we look after our woodlands, and we look after ourselves. This resource is live now.
We hope that Making a Stand illuminates complexities of land and resource use and the supply chains that connect them. Everything we use is connected, so the building industry, the public and our politicians must face this challenging reality if we are to turn the tide on the climate crisis.