Artist Statement

Twitching Trees

Environmental Sight Specific Artwork – by T.H.Hyndman - Fair Isle, Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK.

 People often enjoy and comment on my trees, some have witnessed exceptionally rare birds using my unique art form, but few people knowingly view this as art as I do. I make it for myself and the birds. I document the creative & observational process, my blog as the gallery.


Finding a large piece of driftwood at the bottom of a cliff, I risked life and limb as I traversed the sheep trail up wards along the shear face with a 12 foot remnant of a tree on my shoulder. I wonder where it came from as secured it up right in my garden. Norway? Scotland? Newfoundland? It was mostly bare, just a tall well weathered trunk with only 3 short projecting broken branch stubs. Using wire I salvaged from the rubbish at the North Lighthouse I added a few more pieces of driftwood to make perching opportunities for birds. It was more functional than ascetic, as anything new on a small island it quickly was noticed and drew comments. What's that for? It's for the birds, I said. What's your target species? laughed the Asst. Warden from the Fair Isle Bird Observatory. A week later they were photographing notable migrant birds on tree like construction. Since spring 2008 I have recorded over 80 species of wild birds that have used that first Twitching Tree.

The relationship between sculpture, man and bird is most often thought of as the clique of pigeons crapping on bronze statues of long dead heroes in heavily populated city centres. Far from the case here on Fair Isle. When instinctively creating my first tree I soon recognised that I was using the processes of art that come naturally to me. So similar to the environmental sight specific art I had done when I was young and in university and elsewhere. Man's interaction with nature has always been a favourite art subject of mine. As any sculptor will take a raw material and transcend it into a object of beauty, power and worth, I have invested my constructions with experiences and documentation while also serving a function to nature and the viewers. Thus creating functional & conceptional works of art, the once insignificant pieces of driftwood, I now look upon as an icons of surprising possibilities. The Twitching Trees artistically facilitate the interaction between nature, the sculpture and the viewer. These interactions are conceptually so strong with these works of art that the more sculptural or tree like they are the more they distract from the concepts. I would say it is sort of like Jackson Pollack trying not to paint images. It is natural for an artist interests to become a theme with in the framework of ones art such as wildlife or birdwatching. Themes I often portray and record my visual observations in the more traditional arts of drawing & painting. Similarly the recording of observations and interactions with nature is one of the major concepts of Twitching Trees. Collectively the framework of the documentation in the forms of the physical constructions, a list of interacting bird species, photographs & my experiences with nature have created something I am proud call a work of art.

Birds on a Stick

The "Stick" is a found object that facilitates my interaction with nature & wildlife. It's up close and personal, placed just outside the window of my home. The place where the viewer and wildlife interact becoming a common reference point unifying and a constant through out the work. The Birds photographed range from common residences to scarce or rare migrant species. As any sculptor will take a raw material and transcend it into a object of beauty, power and worth, I now value the "Stick" much more than many paintings I have made, as it is now invested with experiences and documentation while also serving a function. The once insignificant piece of driftwood I now look upon as a icon of surprising possibilities with wildlife. It is the same for my original Twitching Trees, artistically the interaction between nature, the sculpture and the viewer is conceptually so strong with these works. Even though the humble stick is in every photo, it is the wildlife that star in this work. It is natural for an artist interests such as Birds & Wildlife to become a theme with in the framework of ones art, and this is true of much of my more tradisional art forms paintings & sculpture that often have images of birds. Please disregard one photo of a bird or the stick alone as art, it's collectively the framework of the Stick, the documentation in photographs & my intimate experiences with birds & nature that make for a detailed account of "Birds on the Stick" a work of art.

Background Information:

Deforestation is a major issue through out the world. Trees are sorely missed in any ecosystems where they are destroyed. Even hundreds of years after in the case of Fair Isle, where naturally accruing trees are long since extinct, resident birds never knowing anything more than a garden shrub seem to seek out my artistic structures. Ironically it was the wood of trees in the form of boats or rafts that aloud the first Bronze Age visitors to reach this distance island on the horizon. Archaeology shows the island was quickly deforested most likely by possible by transient people (pre-Picts or Vikings?) not worried about maintaining wood as a renewable resource. With the introduction of grazing animals like sheep, cows, etc. the renewal of any trees was doomed. In the last 40 years, trees of all verities and species have been planted all over the Isle, but most die within a year or two. While nothing really grows above the height of a near bye wall or shelter trees always are in threat from a poor fence and a hungry winter sheep. The strong salty winds kill most trees before the ever reach for the sky. Even now my Twitching Trees have shown relevance in the ecosystem of my garden and the island.

The talk of finding wood at sea or shore makes the men of Fair Isle talk like gold miners. They reminisce of great cashes of wood from ship wrecks. Great forests of floating cut boards, deck cargo blow over board in a gale are local tales of legend. Years ago giant uncut logs like dead whales bobbing off shore blown in from Scandinavia, having been hauled on to shore and they still sit there today, deemed to good to use. The old men say we don't get the wood on the beaches like we used too. I have a hard time finding usable bits to build more trees On an island with virtually no trees, wood is almost to good to burn. Most folks here burn coal or peat. While wood is revered as something special. It is no wonder that many Islanders have become skilled wood craftsmen not just carpenters but also excelling in the arts of boat building, traditional furniture, wool spinning wheels, guitar & fiddle making. 

Future Events:

If the “Twitching Trees & The Stick" were taken off Fair Isle and exhibited in a contemporary art setting with supporting photos and documentation it might be quite an interesting arts event referencing the interaction between man & nature. Plus thinking of the possibilities of adding new potential species & locations to the work excites me, elaborating on what I have done by taking the Fair Isle "Stick" to America.

What about the viewer at said exhibition? Did they have a chance to witness and participate by logging in a wildlife sighting while at the show? What would they take with them upon leaving the exhibit?  Maybe it's just a little conversion over lunch? Maybe it would inspire someone to take a photo or to look, enjoy and feed wildlife? Could it possibly reinforce the awareness of the importance of trees in any environment and the symbiotic relationship they provide? Would one person sarcastically say "I could do that?" then build their own and unconsciously interacting with nature more closely? Maybe someone would never be able to look at a random stick in the same way again? 

"Everyone interprets art differently,
 ironic because we look to art to see how others view our world."

"What is Art? Art is Intention."

When asked the question, "What is art?" I respond with "Art is intention"  if you intend to make art, it's art... Whether it is good or bad art is a different question and is open to debate... At times I have believed, "Everything I do is art" and at others "Art doesn't truly exist, it's just a word to jack up the price." you can quote me on both even though they are contradictory it's hard to prove me wrong in either case. Seeing how this art is not for sale... does it really matter?

I'll leave you with one last T.H.Hyndman artist quote:

"Art is about things you cannot express with words, but can be talked about all day."


  1. all what you do is amasing. Respect for you

  2. We look forward to seeing the Twitching Tree next year.