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Wood Marketing Federation and Irish forest industry support major exhibition in Sitka spruce at Venice

THE WOOD MARKETING FEDERATION (WMF) recognises the enormous challenges facing the forest industry especially in its drive to increase export market share for home-grown timber. We promote the sector to key decision makers and stakeholders as a vibrant sustainable industry with major economic, environmental and social benefits.

A project we have identified for our 2012-13 programme is Vessel by the award winning architects O’Donnell + Tuomey. This is a major international project, which will promote Irish design and culture at the Venice Biennale. It also has huge potential in promoting Sitka spruce, a species at the centre of our forestry and forest products industry.

The Venice Biennale, begins in August, is regarded as the world’s greatest architectural exhibition. It is visited by the most influential international architects, designers, urban planners, developers and critics.

O’DONNELL + TUOMEY ARCHITECTS exhibited at the Biennale in 2004. This year David Chipperfield, artistic director, Biennale, has invited them to prepare a special installation Vessel. This has so impressed the Biennale that O’Donnell + Tuomey have been allotted one of the most prominent locations at the Biennale. Their likely companions are Kazuo Sejima, co-designer of the Rolex Learning Centre, Lausanne and the New Museum New York,  Luigi Snozzi, the highly influential Swiss based architect and  Vittorio Lampugnani, the former editor of Domus, the widest circulation design magazine in the world.

Vessel – model of 9-m high installation in Sitka spruce by O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects proposed for the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Vessel is a contemplative space; a funnel of light, illuminating a structure that represents all that is best in Irish creative expression. Built in layers of planked home-grown FSC certified spruce, the temporary structure will contrast with the existing permanent brick structure of the Corderie at the heart of the Biennale.

In this central location, O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects will build a nine-metre high installation in Sitka spruce planked timber. Vessel, which is a contemplative space, connects to an exhibition featuring Irish creative works. When the exhibition is over, the work will return to Ireland where it will be installed in a prominent public space in 2013.

AS PART OF THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS, the architects have enlisted the support of growers and processors as well as representatives of the literary and craft communities including:  Joseph Walsh, furniture maker; Tim Robinson, writer and cartographer; Seamus Heaney, poet and Nobel Laureate; and Martin Hayes, musician and composer.

O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects have sought support from the Irish forestry and forest products industry including the timber processing sector, preservative companies, State agencies and other stakeholders either individually or through the Wood Marketing Federation.

THE PROJECT has been extremely well received as WMF members believe that it will promote Irish timber and the wood processing industry internationally, which is extremely important at a time when the sector is almost totally dependent on exports.

This project pushes the boundaries of creative marketing and promotion, and is compatible with the WMF mission to promote wood as a renewable, sustainable and versatile natural material. It is an opportunity for the sector to support a truly international project, which is why we commend it to our members and supporters.

Glennon Brothers has committed to sponsor all the timber required. Coillte is providing generous sponsorship while COFORD, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is supporting the project. Lonza Timber Protection, The Murray Timber Group and the Society of Irish Foresters are also providing sponsorship.

After the Venice Biennale, it is planned to install the work at an Irish venue in 2013. We welcome support from WMF members and other forestry stakeholders for the next phase of this project.

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