Big Bamboo

Submitted by Philip Vaughan

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Client: Los Angeles Arboretum

Location: Los Angeles, CA, United States

Completion date: 2015

Artwork budget: $15,000

Project Team

Artist

Philip Vaughan

Client

Seth

Sam Maloof Foundation

Client

Britanny Fabeck

LA Arboretum

Overview

This project came out of an invitation from the artist and curator Patricia Ferber to join a group of sculptors showing work at the Los Angeles Arboretum as part of the Nature of Sculpture show. I decided to create a work on site, from bamboo grown at the Arboretum. The idea came from a series of works that I had been plying with as drawings, scale models and stainless steel maquettes. The concept was a structure that had balance, an organic quality and responds to the forces of gravity.

Goals

The Arboretum staff were very welcoming to the idea and offered me unfettered access to their splendid bamboo groves. I chose a size of bamboo that was light enough to carry by hand yet as large as I could manage so that the piece would have the correct scale and dimensions to compete with the surrounding trees. I especially liked the idea that this construction would be created from material that was grown right there at the arboretum.

Process

The largest pieces of bamboo we cut are over 50ft long and 5-6" in diameter. These dark green beauties are slender, strong and flexible, when mounted vertically they sway in the wind, yet when lashed together they make up a spare, sturdy and delicate structure. Our goal was to be able to assemble this work entirely by hand. To this end we used ladders, hand saws, boat rigging and lashings to get the pieces up there and to secure them.

Additional Information

The day we completed the work, a friend sent me a picture of a local red-tailed hawk, perched on one of the sculptures' limbs resting as the sun went down. I thought that was a particularly poignant moment and proof that we had succeeded in making a piece that could take its place among the real trees and plants in the arboretum.