Tree of Life


Ernst Gamperl
Dialogue with Wood

Exhibition at the
Gewerbemuseum Winterthur

26 May – 3rd November 2019

25 May 2019 4 pm

26 May and 8 September
11 am
The Tree of Life Project 
Dialogue-based tour
With Ernst Gamperl and Markus Rigert 

7 September 2019, 4 pm
Ernst Gamperl – Dialogue
Book launch

28 September, 8 pm
Spinning the void
Musical live performance
Ceramics, wood and piano: The two artists Ernst Gamperl and Thomas Bohle will each shape one vessel in front of the audience – to notes played by the pianist and crossover musician Nik Bärtsch.

13 June and 31 October 2019, 6.30 pm
Public guided tours

This project is all about the biggest tree that has ever found its way into my hands… a once-in-a-lifetime event.

If you were to go off in search of a tree this size, you would never be able to find one. Nobody wanted to take on this enormous tree – it was just too colossal for standardised work sequences and it was a challenge in every respect, even for me, to find an artistic balance between creating well-proportioned vessels and finding a new dimension without succumbing to vastness, on either a mental or a physical level.

And it was oak, too – my favourite wood. The tree had been standing for about 230 years before it was uprooted by a storm about three years ago, destroying the roof and first floor of a house in the process. Luckily, there were no casualties.

Due to its immense proportions, the tree had to be salvaged with heavy-duty cranes, causing quite a stir of excitement throughout the surrounding area.

A friend of mine who lived nearby drew my attention to the tree. I wasted no time getting in touch with the forestry administration and the people responsible. At 3 metres long, the butt log alone weighed 10 tonnes with the second, equally long section, coming in at 14 tonnes. The maximum diameter was as much as 2.70 m. I was both delighted and uneasy, but I bought the tree anyway and got straight down to planning, inspired by the idea of giving the tree a whole new life.

Over the last two years, my workshop has been completely modified – even expanded – and converted to accommodate works on a new scale. And new lathes have been constructed and honed with a great outlay of labour and expense. We worked intensively in every conceivable way to prepare ourselves for the arrival of this giant – and not just in practical terms.

This was also an exceedingly important time for me to find the right attitude, to train and refine my visual intuition so that I could recognise the vessels that were already contained in the tree as soon as I cut into it.

As transportation was initially out of the question for a tree of this weight and size, the first cuts were made on the spot. We managed to get two truckloads safely home and the first works have now been completed – the wood is fantastic to lathe and curves wonderfully – we have been rewarded for our pains in every respect. I am not ready to show the work yet. I’d like to have completely transformed the tree into vessels first, and then it can make its big appearance.

Special edition

A limited special edition comprising 30 exclusive and unique objects from the “Tree of Life” will be on sale during the “Ernst Gamperl – Dialogue with Wood” exhibition at the Gewerbemuseum Winterthur. Available in two different sizes, they can be purchased at a preferential price.
They vary in terms of shape, colour, texture and size so that no two objects are the same as any other.

Object 1, ø approx.15 cm Price €1,000 (reduced from €1,300)
Object 2, ø approx. 20 cm Price €2,000 (reduced from €2,300)

Orders will be processed in chronological order.

By ordering one of these objects, you will be supporting the book “Ernst Gamperl – Zwiesprache” (Ernst Gamperl – Dialogues) which is due for publication in September 2019. You will additionally receive a copy of the book with a personal dedication and you will also be credited in the book.

Please pre-order by email.