Permanent and temporary commissions and projects

Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Arbores Laetae (Joyful Trees)

Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Arbores Laetae, 2008

Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Arbores Laetae, 2008

Arbores Laetae (Joyful Trees) (2008) by Diller Scofidio + Renfro is a public artwork at the corner of St George Street and Parliament Street, which has been reactivated for the 20th anniversary of Liverpool Biennial.

Originally commissioned for Liverpool Biennial 2008, Arbores Laetae (Joyful Trees) (2008) playfully reinvented the tradition of the public park and proposed a new model for green space in the urban context. Situated on a brownfield site adjacent to a key arterial route into the city centre, the work consists of seventeen hornbeams formally planted in grid pattern which create a small wooden grove. At the heart of this landscape, three slowly rotating trees periodically disrupt the formality of the grid with their diagonal dance.

The choice of a Latin title for the work – Arbores Laetae – exemplifies the combination of rigour and playfulness which characterised Dillers Scofidio + Renfro’s approach. Each project involved extensive research not only into the physical site or form that provided the starting point for the work, but the conventions and debates governing that space. The result was a project that was both of the site for which it had been created, and a tool with which to see the site or context more clearly, throwing into relief conventions or realities which had gone unnoticed.

In Arbores Laetae, the artists the conventions of horticulture and gave their newly invented species a Latin name. The Joyful Tree is a tree created specially for an urban, roadside, setting. This new hybrid crossbreeds the endless movement of surrounding traffic with the leafy backdrop of street greenery, merging nature – the imagined site of respite and retreat – with the dynamics of city life and created a new reality. Incorporating a strong performative element, Arbores Laetae choreographs the everyday. Trees no longer form a green backdrop, but become central characters on the urban stage; visitors are not onlookers, but cast as performers in a pleasurable dance of discovery.

If the trees are not turning when you visit the artwork, please call the Liverpool Biennial office for assistance on 0151 709 7444 (line open Monday–Friday, 9.30am–5.30pm)


Corner of St George Street and Parliament Street