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Published: 19 September 2020

By Andy Ross

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A little slice of tree

Recently, a window in a small gallery in Kennington caught our attention showing panels of printed silk revealing, in intricate detail, the interior structures of different trees.

Ken Artspace is just off the busy Kennington Road in Windmill Row, and this exhibition features the work of its owner, Rob Kesseler. Rob produced these pieces in 2008 for an exhibition in Kew Gardens to celebrate the Year of the Tree Festival. The artist used dyes to stain thin tree slices, revealing cells, glands and tissue, and then printed the banners onto habotai silk. The trees the slices came from are Salix, Quercus, Fagus and Fraxinus or, to you and me, willow, oak, beech and ash. 

"Plant and wood sections are relatively colourless and in order to reveal their structures more clearly they are coloured with a range of exotic sounding histological stains: Safranin O, Toluide Blue O, Alcian Blue, Gentian violet, Sudan Black.




In a collection of wildflower sections produced as part of a Fellowship at the Gulbenkian Science Institute, Portugal, the stains produced a kaleidoscopic display of colours revealing complex patterns akin to stained glass. Up to 500 photographs of whole stems were taken and assembled to create mandala-like images up to 3 meters in diameter."

On this page are some images from the Kew exhibition and the windows in Kennington. Mesmerising and beautiful, they show us the delicacy, and robustness, of the natural world.