A sculpture by Jesse Toso titled Mariel is one of the pieces that will be exhibited during OneTree 2019 at the Robert Bateman Gallery of Nature beginning Nov. 16. (Courtesy Bateman Centre)

Nearly 80 incredible artists, one extraordinary Vancouver Island tree

Bateman gallery’s OneTree 2019 honours the life of a single, tree salvaged from the Chemainus Valley

By Rick Stiebel

Robert Bateman’s art highlights his rare power to capture and release the essence and spirit of the natural world that surrounds us. 

OneTree 2019 is a partnership between the Bateman Foundation and Live Edge Design conceived in the spirit of sustainability and partnership that honours the life of a single, salvaged tree.

The exhibition features creations by more than 70 artists that have worked the wood from a 200-year-old Bigleaf maple from the Chemainus Valley into pieces that include art, jewelry, furniture and musical instruments. Art by Bateman — and for the first time in partnership with his son, John Bateman — is featured in 80 pieces by local artisans from Vancouver Island and California.

The tree at the root of their creations is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the world, with a history that spans two centuries. It rose on the land of the Halalt First Nation, nourished by water from the Chemainus River.

The tree towered by the home of Charles Edward Barkley, a captain in the British Navy. It stood guard in 1909 when Barkley, 80 years old at the time, ran back into his house as it was engulfed in flame to try and rescue the diary of his grandmother, Frances Hornby Trevor, the first woman to circumnavigate the earth. Although sadly, Barkley and the diary were never seen again, the Bigleaf maple endured for another century, until it began to rot from top to bottom.

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The three pillars of OneTree Project are to celebrate the life of a tree, to showcase the extraordinary talents of artists in B.C. and beyond, and to demonstrate the vast potential of the wood from a single salvaged tree, explained John Lore, president of Live Edge Design in a media release. OneTree 2019 includes the most artists ever involved in a OneTree project and involves the biggest and oldest tree ever used, he noted.

“The tree stood for two tumultuous centuries and had a most extraordinary life from a human perspective,” Lore wrote. “We are anxious to tell its story and let it live on through the many pieces created for this exhibit.”

Peter Ord, executive director of the Bateman Foundation, said “We are thrilled to be hosting the third edition of OneTree at the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature. It’s a beautiful and inspiring exhibit that speaks to our commitment to creativity, sustainability and the role the arts play in engaging the public with the beauty of nature.”

OneTree 2019 will be at the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature in Victoria’s Inner Harbour from Nov. 16 to Feb. 29,2020. The official public launch takes place Saturday, Nov. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with admission by donation.

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Everything in the exhibition is available for purchase, and the Gallery of Nature gift shop will be stocked with pieces by artists participating in OneTree 2019. Commissions from sales support the operation of the gallery and the Bateman Foundation’s educational programs.

The Bateman Foundation is a national charity and one of the only non-profits in Canada primarily using artwork to promote a connection to nature. the Gallery of nature is a core initiative that hosts the largest collections of Bateman’s work. Visit batemanfoundation.org. for more information on Bateman and the foundation.

Live Edge Design creates custom furniture from locally salvaged trees. The drying, design, production and finishing is done in their workshop in Duncan. For a look at their work, check out liveedgedesign.com.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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