Es Devlin installs a temporary forest at The New York Times Climate Hub in Glasgow for Cop26

The installation was inspired by Richard Powers’ Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Overstory.

8 November 2021


As Cop26 enters its second week and people take to the streets to maintain their fight for climate justice, Es Devlin’s new installation remains at The New York Times’ Climate Hub at the SWG3 Arts Centre in Glasgow. Phillip Jaffa, a forest architect, and landscape specialist Scotscape, helped Devlin with creating the rich, living and breathing installation.

Devlin’s work usually involves large-scale installations or environments which stimulate the senses by combining music, language, and light. For this installation, 197 trees and plants have been placed together to form a Conference of the Trees: a temporary forest inspired by The Overstory, a novel by Richard Powers which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2019. Within the forest, talks and events will take place.

The work is similar to the artist’s previous temporary installation Forest for Change, installed this summer at the London Design Biennale at Somerset House, aiming to focus attention on the United Nations’ Global Goals. The trees were replanted following the installation within urban reforestation projects in Southwark and Islington. As will the Conference of the Trees, which will be planted as part of a native public garden to be established in cooperation between SWG3 and The New York Times.

For this installation, Devlin places the delegates within an environment which sees the trees as if they are bearing witness to their actions. Many recent studies suggest that human health and mood are improved when we spend time among trees. According to these studies, aggression and anxiety are reduced, while compassion and kindness levels are raised when in the presence of trees. Because conferences are usually rather stuffy-looking, corporate or clinical, and austere, Devlin thinks a sensitively lit environment, surrounded by trees, might have a positive effect on the quality of conversation at the summit.

The artwork was erected on 3 November and will remain in place until 11 November 2021.

Response & Responsibility – Cop26

During the next two weeks, over 120 world leaders are meeting in Glasgow to agree on the actions needed to pull the earth back from the brink of a climate catastrophe. The most important conference of our lifetime, in response, we are exploring creative responses to the climate crisis throughout the duration of Cop26.

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Es Devlin: Conference of the Trees (Copyright © Es Devlin Studio)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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