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The Apple Tree on the Abandoned Railroad Line

While artists-in-residence in 2018, in the small town of Assens in Denmark on the island of Funen, the artists couple, Elin Noble and Lasse Antonsen, became aware of an abandoned railroad line running between the towns of Assens and Tommerup, a distance of approximately 30 kilometers.


The rail line was built in 1884 and carried passenger trains until 1966. Until 1993 it still carried freight trains, but after that it was abandoned.


The island of Funen is apple country and home to well-known varieties. People enjoy eating them, and while traveling by train, the core would often be thrown out the window. While the train line was active, brush and growth next to the tracks would regularly be cleared, but after the tracks were abandoned, trees were allowed to grow freely, resulting in what is now many mature apple trees.


Well known varieties of apples are always grafted, in other words, each tree is a clone of the original variety. The five seeds contained in each apple are always different and will not produce an apple tree like the apple they came from.


Antonsen and Noble found a large tree with astringent apples, which for Elin Noble - who is a dyer - indicated the presence of tannins. She knew the leaves contained flavonoids, a yellow dye. The artists then collected apples, leaves and twigs from the tree, and Elin began to dye silk, linen, ramie, and cotton cloth, resulting in a large variety of yellow and golden colors.


The artists decided - in what was to be their first collaboration - to create works of art based on the format of a test strip, a small strip of cloth partially dipped into a dye bath in order to get a sense of color and concentration. For the artwork itself, much larger sections of rectangular cloth were used. One end of the cloth, and sometimes both ends, were submerged in either an iron solution, resulting in a rich range of black, dark gray and green, or in a titanium solution for a variety of orange colors.


Most of the work on display is created out of transparent silk organza. All the rectangular pieces of cloth were allowed to overlap in a minimalist and repeated pattern, resulting in an optical blending of deeper and richer colors.


Antonsen and Noble see their work as a search for beauty, and as an homage to the endless variety of color and light found in nature.



Fiber Art Fair, Seoul Art Center, Seoul, South Korea

May 12 - 21, 2023


Bojagi Forum, Seoul, South Korea

May 27 - 31, 2023


High Five Art, Baarle-Nassau, the Netherlands

July 9 - August 27, 2023

Featured at The Narrow Center for the Arts in Fall River, Massachusetts

November 12, 2022 - January 14, 2023

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