Sections of the landmark maple tree from the Island Savings Centre are now part of a public art piece in the centre’s newly renovated lobby.
David Martinello, from Duncan’s Alternative Woodworks, took the trunk and some branches from the approximately 100-year-old maple tree, which was located in the centre’s parking area until it was taken down in the summer of 2016, and created an art piece called “Interweave”.
Martinello, a carpenter who makes sculpture as well as furniture, said the inspiration behind Interweave was a picture he saw on a friend’s mantelpiece of his friend’s kids playing in and around the iconic old tree, which was hollow in the centre and a magnet for children and the young at heart.
He said he sought to recreate that space in the tree and allow visitors at the centre to interact with Interweave, and enter its inner confines.
“I want the community to feel as much ownership of Interweave as they did with the original tree,” Martinello said while setting up the sculpture in the centre’s foyer on June 26.
“As someone who uses art and craft to work with the poetic attributes of wood, it’s an honour to have been inspired directly by the character of a very special tree. As most everyone in the Valley, I knew the legacy tree and admired its shape and stature with wonderment. I’m grateful that I was able to find Interweave, and wish it all the best with it’s life in the community.”
The tree was scheduled to be taken down in June, 2016, as part of the centre’s plan to upgrade the parking lot, but people opposed to its demise fought hard to save it.
The Island Savings Centre Commission decided to postpone the decision to fell the tree until they had a dialogue with those that wanted it saved, and gathered more input into alternatives to cutting it down.
But, after a couple of meetings with the public and gathering more information, the commission decided to move forward with plans to remove it despite the protests, and promised some form of art work would be made from its remnants.
Local artists were invited to submit proposals for some form of art piece from the tree, and a selections committee chose Martinello’s concept over five other submissions.
Martinello milled the wood and constructed a solar kiln to dry the lumber before transporting the wood to two large temporary buildings that were fashioned for the sculpture’s construction.
He said he intertwined the curved parts that came from the top of the tree with vertical sections from the trunk to create Interweave.
“I worked on this for a long time and it was a very complicated process,” he said.
“I like to think that I didn’t make Interweave, but found it in the wood that I was given to work with.”
Terri Askham, manager of the Island Savings Centre, said the old tree was a landmark and a meeting place for many in the community, and the centre wanted that legacy to continue with the new art piece in its foyer.
“The centre is a community meeting place and we’re pleased to have Interweave in our new lobby,” she said.