Alongside her practice of painting wobbling characters into the funniest and most absurd scenarios, Berlin-based artist Jill Senft has developed a fascination with trees. In particular, it’s when a cluster of trees are horticultured together in an arboretum that caught the painter’s eye, thinking she would collect the different trees together in some sort of book or zine, “which I quickly found boring as it already exists,” she says.
Despite already being covered in other formats this “didn’t detract from my fascination about trees in general,” Jill tells It’s Nice That. “Apart from the externals and the obvious things, I was wondering what else they do for us, or what we do with them.” The artist began researching and “stumbled over all these English word syllables, ‘tre’ or ‘trie’ that just sounded like tree to me,” she explains. “So I made kind of a joke with the puns in the beginning. That’s how the fun part came to life, I became motivated by the topic again and I started painting all these trees that I find really fascinating and named them differently.”
What developed is a new pun-based tree species titled Treemendous, a new zine which couples the artist’s tree-based fascination with some scoffing humour. Each page is a dedication to Jill’s tree dictionary from “treeceps” to “treetment” or “biogtree”, “basically they’re named after the interaction we humans have with trees,” the artist points out.
Pairing her niche interest of trees with something relatable is the joy of Jill’s project and feels like a real eureka moment of doing a project on something you personally really love, but still being able to communicate it to a wider audience. Putting trees within this context was a practice Jill found “way more interesting than just seeing them as an air cleaner, a raw material to produce something, or an object that just stands around and I can name,” she says. “As the interaction varies extremely from person to person, I just show my own point of view about trees and humans, so now there’s this guide, Treemendous which is tremendously important to know.”
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