Inspired by last year's National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., Tom Price has created his own cherry trees using polypropylene pipe and nylon cables. Price heated the plastic tubing, which allowed the material to conform to his liking. Next, he used the cables to tie the tubing together. Cross-sections of the tubing were used to make the leaves. While Price's cherry trees are beautiful themselves, their shadows certainly add to the installation's beauty. To find out more, check out our interview with Tom Price below.
I understand the installation was inspired by the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC. What in particular stood out to you about the festival?
I didn't visit any event during the festival, but I was there when the trees were in full bloom.
Cherry blossom events expose certain realities about beauty and existence. It's something we desperately want to hold on to, yet have to accept the fleeting ephemeral feeling of the experience. This understanding is intrinsically linked to the beauty of the phenomenon.
I have been working a lot with plastics over the past few years, and in particular with utilitarian plastic products. We seem to have a natural disdain for most things plastic and tend to regard plastic artifacts as inferior and undesirable. A lot of the work I do with plastic products is an attempt to present the material in a new and surprising light. There are certain things that can only be done with certain plastics, which are impossible to emulate with any other material. There is something about the colors, the malleability and the unpredictability that particularly appeals to me, and I attempt to uncover and expose unexpected beauty within products that are typically considered mundane and uninteresting.
The PP Tree installation is partly about the material (common polypropylene plumbing pipes) and what can be done with it, but it is also intended as an observation of our understanding and acceptance of beauty. The trees are not intended to be accurate representations of cherry trees, but I was hoping to capture something of the essence of the experience of standing amongst them. There is a certain irony in representing something so natural and ephemeral with a material that is man-made and has a very long shelf life.
What was the most challenging aspect of creating the piece?
Figuring out how to get tight bends in the tubes without them buckling or collapsing. It took a very long time to create each tree!
When and how did you start working with unconventional materials?
I have been working with plastics for a few years now. I don't think it's the materials that are so unconventional – it's more the production techniques.
What's next for you?
I am showing in Design Miami next week, then I will be working towards a solo show at Industry Gallery in LA next year. I'm working on a few new concepts for that.