ACT News


Trees a gateway to the Canberra story

'Fore!' an impatient golfer at the Royal Canberra Golf Club yodelled on Thursday. On the verge of the fairway he and his chums wanted to send their manly drives hurtling down there was a knot of people, plainly not golfers, gathered in the shade of some of the superior course's sumptuously leafy trees.

The trespassers were UK artist Jyll Bradley and senior BBC Radio producer Jonquil Panting surrounded by a small, but select, swarm of media people.

Bradley was at Westbourne Woods on Thursday working on her specially commissioned Centenary of Canberra City of Trees project which will blossom (pun intended) next year, our centenary year.

''I came out to Canberra in 2010 at the invitation of Robyn Archer [creative director, Centenary of Canberra] to see if something inspired me about Canberra, for the centenary,'' Bradley said.

''I think within a day I got this real epiphany, that the story of Canberra could in a way be told through the trees, that every tree had a human story to tell … In a way the trees are a door into the understanding of Canberra and the people who live and work here.''

And so she's interviewed perhaps 300 Canberrans about their relationships with the ACT's trees. Bradley and Panting's work will emerge in two forms.


In March there'll be a release online and to ABC Radio National of the conversations she's had.

Then in July and at the National Library of Australia there'll be her photographs (for she is a visual artist, really) combined with some of her recordings.

Thursdays' work at Royal Canberra/Westbourne Woods has all but brought their local hunting-gathering to an an end and now they're going home to get to work on it all.

If they, the golfers, had known that Bradley is the only international artist directly commissioned to work for the centenary, they might have, out of respect, skipped that hole and gone on to the next.