Pooktre tree shaping is a unique eco-art form created, developed and perfected by Peter Cook and Becky Northey in South East Queensland, Australia. Pooktre is a dream made into a reality through inspiration, love of nature, tree finesse (see the photos), persistence and understanding trees and how they grow.
Axel N. Erlandson: Tree Shaping Master
Now if I am going to post an article about Pooktre I’ve got to mention one of the masters of tree shaping, Axel N. Erlandson (1884-1964). Erlandson put himself on the map, literally and figuratively, by creating a roadside horticulture attraction he dubbed The Tree Circus in Scotts Valley, California back in 1947. Erlandson had a vision of a horticulture theme park and charged admission but it was never a commercial success. The Tree Circus took in just over $300 for the entire year of 1955…his biggest take. He sold the property in 1963 for $12K and died the next year. Property owners came and went over the years. Finally, in 1985, the owner of a tree nursery bought 24 of the trees from the previous owner and transplanted them to his horticulture theme park, Gilroy Gardens in Gilroy, CA, and they are on display today. Some of the other trees were sold and ended up at The Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, CA and in Baltimore at the American Visionary Art Museum.
Grow Your Own Furniture…Really!
50-plus years after Erlandson’s Tree Circus opened for business, Pooktre co-founder Pete Cook proudly stands next to one of his guided creations on his home turf in South East Queensland, Australia. Pete has some very cool looking Pooktre growing out back. Pete’s life partner, Becky, co-founded Pooktre back in 1996.
Becky’s bio describes how the art of Pooktre developed in the following manner…”The swirls in the Pooktre was inspired by the hobby of engraving that she was doing at the time.” Their website is what inspired me to write this post because of their nature-work and tree face image on the home page.
Becky and Pete wrote me a note where they mention…
"36" />We evolved our techniques of shaping trees in complete isolation from
the rest of the world. With our techniques we know what will work or not
and we can reproduce any of our pieces. Which we have done with our
favorites. Pooktre only relates to our techniques, in short we have
mastered the art of Pooktre.
One very important thing that I have learned is that Pooktre is NOT arborsculpture. Arborsculpture does not translate well in Japanese. In Japanese it means to carve away, not shape, and Pooktre is all about tree shaping…not carving. Helpful information they picked up while in Japan at the World Expo 2005.
Becky also wrote…
"36" />John Gathright, the producer of the Growing Village at the Japan’s World Expo 2005, asked if we wished to have the whole art form called Pooktre or Circus Trees. We felt that as Axel N. Erlandson had done his trees first and well, that we were happy to have our trees associated with his. So in Japan at the Expo the trees were called Circus trees. We are quite happy to have our trees associated with people that have mastered their art. Example; John Krubsack who grew a chair on his first try or with Chris Cattle who has mastered the way he shapes the trees and is able to reproduce the same design again and again. Which means he has a understanding of how and why the design works.
You can see more of their work that was featured at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan.
A hat stand and a few special carvings (above). More Pooktre creations below.
Notice on the photo (directly above) that they have inserted a custom-cut piece of stained glass within the tree itself where it has become a part of the tree. Simply amazing!
Pooktre Night Men (above)
Pooktre: Pook and Becky are doing some amazing things in ‘the land down under’. She has also informed me that they are currently working on a book describing the tree shaping process. She states…
"36" />The book will be mainly photos with explanation text. It goes through how to choose a tree type to the finished piece.
I’m in! Publishing a book showing how this is done is a gateway for green thumbs around the globe to do something special in their own backyard…or at least make an attempt at it.
Sources and photo credits
Unrelated…while still Related