The connection between deforestation and climate change, and the challenge to express that visually, is the basis for Angela Palmer’s most ambitious and logistically challenging work yet. The concept is to present a series of rainforest tree stumps as a ‘ghost forest’ – using the negative space created by the missing trunks as a climate change art metaphor, the absence representing the removal of the world’s ‘lungs’ through continued deforestation.
Ghost Forest was first shown in Trafalgar Square on 16-22 November 2009 and was then shipped to Denmark where it was sited in Thorvaldsens Plads, Copenhagen from 7-18 December 2009 during the Cop15 UN Climate Change Conference. The trees are now on the lawn of Oxford University Musuem of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum.
The 10 tree stumps in Ghost Forest – most of which fell naturally in adverse weather conditions – come from the Suhuma forest reserve in Western Ghana, a selectively logged concession run by John Bitar and Co, one of the largest timber producers in Ghana. They operate under strict licence from the Ghana Forestry Commission and run a Chain of Custody tracking system.
After review and with the input of Climate Care, Angela offset Ghost Forest’s carbon footprint by supporting an initiative to introduce efficient cook stoves – Gyapas – in Ghana. Most families in Ghanaian towns and cities cook with charcoal using a metal grate or ‘coal-pot’ that burns very inefficiently and uses a lot of fuel wood. Given the consequences this has for deforestation, The Ghana Stoves project is a very apt one for Ghost Forest to support. An insulated, efficient cookstove, the Gyapa cooks food more quickly, requires less fuel and is less smoky. They are also, therefore, cheaper for Ghanaian families to run and healthier, and since the stoves are manufactured locally, they help provide employment.