Match Bonsai Project

The Match Bonsai Project explores the value of labour, and the commodification of art through modes of production and consumption.  Central to the project is the creation and destruction of painstakingly handcrafted bonsai trees made from thousands of match heads over hundreds of hours.

I have been working on The Match Bonsai Project since 2007 and currently developing a series of events to tour internationally. Each event involves the making of a local tree/s from matches with the public, who then become the entrants in a lottery to decide the fate of the match tree - Will it find a home with someone who helped create it or will it be unceremoniously burned?

A selection of Match Bonsais

This video demonstrates what the 360 degree live interactive live steaming. (Watch on Google as some browsers seem to have compatibility issues for the time being)

In 2010 The Union Gallery, Kingston, Ontario invited me to undertake a live art making event and exhibition that culminated in a Tree burning. Here are some of the highlights, but more detailed information can be found at Testbed for Trees blogpost.

A further ambition of The Match Bonsai Project is to make super slow-motion 4K films of a tree/s burning and from this produce stand alone films and large scale video installations.

Below are two slow motion films of a branch and a kernel of a match bonsai burning in a device called a bomb. They were filmed with Ben Thorne and Dr Alexey Burluka from The School of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Leeds. 

These Schlieren films (shot at 250fps and 500fps) do not show visible light, rather the varying density of the gasses that are moved and produced as the match heads burn. While monochrome and only showing a tiny part of a Match Bonsai, they hint at the impact a high definition, colour film of a whole tree burning will have.