In 1986 Peter had the idea of growing a chair. Nine years later Peter and Becky became partners. Pooktre was born. Together they have mastered the art they call Pooktre, which is the shaping of trees as they grow in predetermined designs. Some are intended for harvest to be high quality indoor furniture and others will remain living art. And this is how a beautiful story started…
Pooktre is the art of gently shaping trees as they grow. The designing and setting up is fundamental to the success of the piece. The growing of the idea is the magic of time bringing the piece to fruition. The tree’s growth is guided onto predetermined design pathways. This is a very gentle but time consuming way of shaping.
The tree species that they have used the most is wild plum (Prunus myrobalan). They have been trailing Black Cheery (Prunus Serotina) and they are happy with the process so far. The type of tree is not the reason for the even and balanced growth however – it’s the method of shaping the trees that results in even or uneven growth. They guild out tree’s growth onto predetermined design pathways. They “evolved their techniques of shaping trees in complete isolation from the rest of the world”. With their techniques they know what will or won’t work and they can reproduce any of their pieces.
About a year ago they decided to write a book about their process Knowledge to grow shaped trees. This book consists mainly of photos with explanation text. It goes through how to choose a tree type to the finished piece. They are “flat out trying to finish the book and they plan to release it as a printed book and then an ebook”.
Peter and Becky have two different styles of art. One is the trees that are to remain alive and the other is the trees the are to be harvested so that they can be enjoyed indoors. The shaping of the tree takes place in the first few years, depending on the length of the piece as to the time needed. Once the shaping is finished most people don’t see the tree/trees and will walk right pass the young trees. The trees need to mature in girth before people notice them. A grown neck piece takes about 1 year from seedling to be ready to be worn. Other pieces have taken 8 or 10 years before they mature enough be photographed. The people trees are one example. Most of our pieces take 8 to 10 years as we like to do the bigger projects. Their photos have the date of planting marked on them for the living pieces. The harvested pieces have the date of planting and harvest marked on them.
As they have two types of art, the moving process is different for each type. For the living pieces they grow, when the piece reaches the perfect moment they transplant it to the new owner as in for the harvested one, they just cut it off and transport it.
Their work has only been shown once, at the World Expo 2005 in Japan. After that, they have been told that the effect of their trees on the bonsai community has been profound. The producer of the Growing Village John Gathright said that they have the most refined pieces in the world, and that they rarer that the finest jewels.
A word from the artists who create Pooktre: “Most people seem to think tree shaping takes too long. That’s not how it should be viewed, rather think of it like this: the time you spend shaping a tree is captured by the tree, then amplified. Twenty, thirty, fifty or maybe a few hundred years from now people will be able it see a tree shaping that you did today. Whether or not you chose to shape a tree, the time passes.”