3/31/2011

The Big Tree Art of George Tirrell: Saving Mariposa Grove

The Grizzled Giant, Sketch from nature, by G. Tirrell.

Giant sequoia, native to California, are amazing trees that can be found on Vancouver Island in Victoria. All were brought here by pioneers from the south as seeds or small trees in the 1800s. It is no wonder that people took the seeds and saplings with them - they were so impressed with these unbelievably large conifers that they did not wish to leave them behind. The pioneers left a legacy in these heritage trees that rise above all others.

Artist George Tirrell left a lasting legacy in the 1800s when he became the first person to sketch Mariposa Grove in what would later become Yosemite National Park. This grove of massive Giant sequoia quickly gained legendary status, and pilgrimages to this natural cathedral became popular. "Go to the Mariposa Grove," Alfred Lambourne advised, "and linger there until the lessons of the place sink deep into your heart".

The Devil's Spear, G. Tirrell

The Mariposa Grove contains many mighty trees. When Europeans first laid eyes on these massive columns of wood they could hardly believe it. When witnesses described the trees to others they were accused of exagerating and/or lying. But the stories were true, and nothing like the Giant sequoias had been seen before.

The Twins, Mariposa Grove, G. Tirrel

Artists like George Tirrell, were inspired by these newly discovered, cloud-scraping monuments. No doubt his work was instrumental in this global treasure eventually being protected.


Artists volunteered their work for this 1989 fund raising book
Similar efforts by artists have helped to save many of BC's beautiful ancient trees just as noteworthy and wow-inspiring as the Giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove. The campaign to save the Carmanah Valley, for example, was stunningly moved along by many Canadian artists that visited Canada's tallest trees and creatively depicted what they saw and felt.
"Campfire conversations would often turn to the stark contrast between the haunting beauty of Carmanah's virgin forest and the slash-choked, burned and blackened clearcuts that lie just outside the watershed. The artists spoke of how the distant growl of heavy logging equipment, carried by the wind from the next valley, affected them...a constant reminder as they sketched and painted, of why they were there." From: Wilderness Committee
Their efforts, like those of artists like George Tirrell before them, helped us to see the amazing beauty and diversity we would be missing if we failed to act.


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