After moving to live in Durban from Europe in 2006 I was surprised and saddened to see how often the great trees that line our city streets have to be felled and was further shocked to discover that these dismembered giants would end up on a rubbish dump along with general refuse. It seemed so wasteful and so sad that no vestige of these magnificent trees would remain.
I became inspired to try and recycle these trees and find ways to work the green wood – and thus created this range of ‘soul stools’, so named as they are made to preserve the soul of each individual tree and honour their passing.
I developed contacts with tree fellers and corporation employees who identified with my cause but as the logs piled up I quickly I realised that I would need help. I found a group of local unemployed men (some of whom proved talented at working with wood) to help reveal the basic shapes of the stools by cutting away the excess with pangas. I could then work with creating the individual stools and have experimented with various styles – most turned on a lathe, some hand carved.
I developed the idea of branding the stools to identify the area that the trees lived and died and to number this limited series of thirty stools.
Unfortunately many trees in Durban have a limited life span often thirty to sixty years and as a result this wood will be continuously available for many years to come. One can only hope that where these trees have been removed they will be replaced by some of the more long lived varieties of indigenous trees as wide tree lined streets are so characteristic of many Durban suburbs.