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Making a Stand

2023 sees the City of Leeds hosting a Year of Culture. At the heart of the programme is a major sculptural work ‘Making a Stand’ by artist Michael Pinsky in collaboration with Studio Bark. Studio Bark has been on our radar in the “people it would be great to work with” category for some time. Their work and ethos are something we admire and have long-thought would be a good fit with us.

More than a sculpture

Made up of finely balanced slabs of Douglas fir. The installation looks back at the ancient forest of Leodis and forward to the future of sustainable cities. The work acknowledges that this urban centre sits on what was once a wild forest. At the same time, ‘Making a Stand’ asks how trees and timber can once again be an integral part of the communities that inhabit the landscape.

The physical work is an ambitious piece of timber engineering that shows aesthetic and structural beauty of timber. It also provides a site to host many of the events for the year of culture. Underpinning this, Studio bark and the City of Leeds wanted to use the installation as an opportunity to talk about trees, wood, carbon, and sustainability. They also wanted to be sure that the timber will have a second (third, fourth, perhaps more) life when the temporary piece comes down in 2024.

Story telling

Our part of the project was one of supporting Studio Bark and Leeds to tell the story behind the supply of the timber and its use in the installation. In doing so we take the complexity of forest supply-chains and of sustainable timber production and explain it in a way that relates to the physical piece and is accessible to all. Studio Bark produced some wonderful and beautifully simple animations to develop into an app. These are combined with short texts that take the user on a journey from forest to finished piece. On the way, exploring the importance of forests, of timber, of our need to harness carbon stores and embrace circular economies.

There is so much we have taken from collaborating on ‘Making a Stand’. It has allowed us to grapple with the problem of taking complex issues and explore them in simplified ways. Concepts that can often take pages to explain required distilling into brief sentences. Phd level complexities need to be accessible to primary school children.

The work has taken physical art-work, mobile technology, drawn animation and written word and combined them into one strong message. It has combined private business, civic development and the public to draw the strands together. And it also envelops an avenue of bringing together people and techniques that we will carry forward and continue exploring with others as our media work perpetually develops.

Photo credit: Tom Joy Photography


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