Beuys’ Acorns – a dynamic, living installation comprising fifty-two trees grown from acorns collected from German artist Joseph Beuys’s monumental 1982 artwork 7000 Oaks – was unveiled today at Bloomberg Arcade, the site of Bloomberg’s European headquarters in London.

The work by UK-based artist duo Ackroyd & Harvey will be at Bloomberg Arcade from 17 July – 7 September 2019. The new commission, brought to London by Bloomberg Philanthropies, aims to challenge the relationship between humans and ecological systems in our cities and highlight the need for urgent climate action.

Originally collected as acorns by Ackroyd & Harvey in 2007, the saplings that make up Beuys’ Acorns have become a living research project on the cultural, biological and climatic significance of trees. As London faces a climate emergency, the installation at Bloomberg Arcade aims to act as a catalyst for conversation around ecology, conservation and the interdependence between humankind and the natural world.

“Beuys’ Acorns”, A New Installation By Ackroyd & Harvey At Bloomberg Arcade

Ackroyd & Harvey said: “Trees and plants underpin all life on earth, and recent scientific research shows they are fundamental to combatting climate change, soaking up carbon dioxide and giving oxygen, replenishing habitats and ecosystems. In a time of planetary instability, the installation questions our current human-centric paradigm and asks if it can be reimagined to allow for a more respectful relationship between humans and ecological systems.” 

Two million people in London – including 400,000 children – are living in areas with illegal levels of air pollution. According to data from Bloomberg-supported charity Trees for Cities, London’s trees remove 2.4 million tonnes of air pollution each year, including carbon dioxide, dust and other gaseous toxins. Urban trees also absorb noise, lower temperature through shading and provide green spaces for communities.

In Beuys’ Acorns at Bloomberg Arcade, saplings up to three metres tall are raised on specially designed tripods, connected to a water bowser by a system of irrigation tubes. These are illuminated by low-energy LED lights that are precisely tuned to photosynthetic wavelengths for optimum sustainability. Developed in partnership with Exploration Architecture, Ackroyd & Harvey’s design for the Bloomberg site both literally and symbolically elevates the trees, raising questions about our relationship with plants and the living world.

Beuys, regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, considered 7000 Oaks to be his most important work. Based on the belief that art must be a force for social change, it was considered an artistic and ecological intervention in a rapidly urbanizing world.

Beuys’ Acorns is one of a series of Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported public artworks that aim to inspire climate action in cities around the world, including Olafur Eliasson’s Ice Watch.

Beuys’ Acorns at Bloomberg Arcade is part of London’s first National Park City Festival (20-28 July 2019) and will be supported by a series of curated events and conversations responding to the themes of climate change, conservation and sustainability.

Beuys’ Acorns is open to the public at Bloomberg Arcade from 17 July, 2019 – 7 Sept, 2019