A cycle of wood sculptures made from tree roots by Slovenian artist Loris Morosini is on display at the Carmelite Priory Museum in Mdina.

Entitled ‘Roots’, the exhibition features sculptures such as Monkey, Swan, Roe Deer, Elephant, Octopus, Fish and Swallow, which were crafted from the roots of cherry, walnut, apricot and robinia trees commonly found in Istria.

Morosini stumbled upon most of these pieces of wood, which had been roots or parts of tree trunks and branches, in the remote parts of the Istrian landscape; their decay had often already begun, they had died off naturally or had been cut off and forgotten about.

Several animal sculptures were created. Morosini says: “Some were for me a manifestation of what is known as animal spirit helpers that accompany shamans on their journeys through different realities and worlds; others were felt as a powerful expression of various transcultural symbols.”

They were sculpted in solitude and a natural environment: the creation itself therefore became an integral part of the process of personal transformation.

More abstract sculptures follow a similar vein (Crown, Unknown, Undulation, Pipe, Shaman’s Stick) and were made from wood typical of Istria or Slovenia (olive tree, smoke bush, robinia, spruce fir), as well as wooden pieces washed on the shores of the world’s oceans.

The distinctive feature of these sculptures compared to the works of other artists creating in wood is the working process itself.

In a pursuit to fulfil his artistic vision, Morosini never cuts the trees that are still growing and living; all the sculptures were created from wooden pieces that, when found, were already in the natural process of decomposition.

The artist says his works are not only the result of artistic intention but also his dialogue with nature. Most were made without any use of machinery (with the exception of Ancestor, Key and Wings, where chiselling was virtually impossible in the initial stages of the process).

His work ends in coating the sculptures with natural wax or oils, but they nonetheless continue to live on: time transforms their colours and carves new landscapes into the veins of wood.

Roots is on at the Carmelite Priory Museum, Mdina, until next Sunday.

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