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One of the ways that artists are engaging with climate change is refocussing the importance of things being lost, of balance disturbed, such as through Silas Birtwistle’s biomimic tree

Speaking to, the British artist Silas Birtwistle explained the concept behind his installation at the Bonn climate conference in Germany, the biomimic tree.

“I want to highlight the dependence of all living things on a functioning healthy ecosystem,” he said. “The tree provides food and a home to animals and birds. It also offers shelter from wind and shade from sun, allowing crops to thrive and feed families.”

“The water running through the tree highlights the increasing importance of water, whose supply is endangered by climate change.” That is why Birtwistle installed it at the Bonn climate summit in November 2017, and is planning to take it to various green conferences around the globe.

Where did he get his idea? “From the hedgerows of England that I saw when I was growing up,” says Birtwistle. “They support an astonishing variety of life.” But as a Londoner, where did he see hedgerows? “I escaped to the countryside as often as I could.”

Why is the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) sponsoring the installation? “Working with Silas, exhibiting this amazing biomimic tree, we show the very real challenge of climate change and environmental sustainability for smallholder farmers in developing countries,” said Margarita Astralaga, IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division Director.


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