TREE heritages (NL: Neuzen in het pinetum)


Tree heritages PHOTOSERIE

















copyright 2014

Claudia De Vos


Tree heritages 2014 at Botanical gardens Pinetum Blijdenstein (NL: Neuzen in het Pinetum)

Art-, scent- and tree pathway for the blind and visually impaired

Visiting Tree heritages: click here

Media on TREE heritages : click here

Parties involved in the project: click here


Tree heritages (2014) is a follow up from the ‘Stills’ project. (2010)

The ‘Stills’ were developed in order to make people more aware of nature and the way they use their senses, through the use of art, scent and plant stories. The ‘Stills’ are multisensory objects that enable people to experience outer and inner environments in a new way. They were exhibited in spring-summer 2010 at the Botanical gardens of the University Utrecht. Tree heritages is based on the same idea, only this project is specially developed for the blind and visually impaired, so it has extra facilities. Tree heritages consists of a special scent-, art- and tree pathway at Botanical Gardens “Pinetum Blijdenstein” in Hilversum, the Netherlands.

About the Artobjects in TREE heritages

 For this project I created a series of ‘art and scent ‘ bowls in stoneware ceramic. Each object reflects the story of the scent. The story is represented by form, symbols, color and texture. The sizes of the bowls with foot vary around 25 cm wide and 25 cm high and have one similarity: they all have a ceramic nose in the centre. This also indicates the ‘scentpoint’ where the largest concentration of fragrance is.  

The symbols originate fom the history of the plant and traditional use . For instance, for the object Thuja I created on the inside of the bow stonecircles of the medicine wheel used by North-Amercian natives: they had discoverd the medicinal use of the thuja. (Lifetree) The inside of the bowl has literal two layers: like an upper and underdeck of a ship. Thuja was much used on against scurvy during long seetravels. The outside of the bowl and foot (where it stands on) make it looks like it floats in branches of a big tree and one of the braches penetrates the bowl to the inside to symbolize the size and strenght . The thuja can become very high and can crack rocks in order to find water.

I used natural colors to blend in with the natural surrounding of the botanical garden, as the front sizes and top of the boxes where the boxes are in presented are transparant. The colors vary in shine: some are glossy others matt. This and the texture of the ceramic ,smooth or rough, make an interesting touch, as the bowls are to be touched as well.

Pinetum Blijdenstein has one of the world's most complete collections of Gymnosperms – the principal member of this family being the Conifer. The Pinetum Blijdenstein collection is part of the Dutch National Plant Collection. The collection contains various species that are threatened with extinction in the wild. Pinetum Blijdenstein is world famous among experts, and is visited by specialists and enthusiasts from all over the world.


The pathway designed for the Pinetum is a course that leads along a selection of a total of ten trees. Beside five of these trees there have been placed green wooden boxes that refer to the tree, with art objects, scent and audio. The other five trees have a description (in braille or large font) in a paperguide. The descriptions consist of stories and touch-activities on the trees. While the blind and visually impaired lack sight, other senses can fill this gap and supplement the experience.

All fragrances used in the pathway provide subtle stimulation and have a natural origin (essential oils). The oils originate from the trees they refer to. The audio provides botanical facts, historical use and symbolic functions of the trees. The art objects reflect symbols of the tree. The boxes also provide branches with needles and cones. The objects and natural materials in the boxes can be touched, fragrances can be smelled, stories can be read and heard, one can choose to ‘embrace’ (or measure) the tree or not. All these elements contribute to a very personal experience. By having a multisensory experience each person is ‘invited’ to transform from witness to participant. The discovery can start now: each object will stimulate each person on a different level, giving fragrant food for thought and knowledge.

Click here for website botanical garden PInetum Blijdenstein