Hyperorganisms / Oliver Kelhammer
18 September – 06 December 2015
Oliver Kelhammer is an artist has been performing various ‘botanical re-mixing’ using simple strategies of ‘grafting’ and ‘scaffolding’.
The outcomes of these experiments are documented in the large-scale photographs, in the exhibition. Some experiments investigate the capacity of native and naturalised plants to act as ‘scaffolding’ for similar species that offer higher food yields. These assemblages of two or more species form a new living system, a ‘hyperorganism’ with characteristics of all the component parts.
Kelhammer grafted a Bartlett Pear to wild hawthorn trees and numerous cultivars of domestic apple (Malus domestica) to the Pacific crabapple (Malus fusca), a wild species native to the Northwest Coast of North America.
Grafting can also be used to repair damaged trees. Some of the images on display showed an apple tree that had been split, which Kelhammer then repaired using a ‘bridge graft’ made up of the watersprouts coming up from around the trees base. He grafted these around the split to convey sap to the crown of the tree and in a few years these watersprouts thickened and encircled the wound, effectively giving the tree a new lease on life.