1996 | Plantation Series I

Oil on canvas © Michael Wilton

In the plantation series Wilton has mastered an effect using texture to create figurative tree trunks along hardwood panels using resin for the figurative effect then oil colour.

The ‘tree-scapes’ as he refers to them vibrate the length of the panel in an array of moody tones recreating the forms of a forest in an unusually surreal manner. Some of the larger panels include the forest floor and depth, though many are simply rows of trunks. The concept examines the metaphoric relationship between the “Bar Code” and “Forestry Plantations.” The loss of natural order, the representation is that in mankind’s need to control his environment he replaces natures arrangement with lines and classifications – creating man made order. The ultimate registration of this is the bar code, the parallel effect being the plantations layout of effective rows.

“The concept is that we are in fact farming ourselves within the same order as we systematically farm our environment. We reside in high-rise apartment blocks – we work in high-rise office blocks, we eat food farmed in cages and pens. We grow our food in rows – we select it from shelves – in rows. We walk and drive along lines and pathways – we cue up when we reach the destination. We live and operate in and out of boxes – squares and rectangles.

Now it is no longer a natural forest or jungle – it’s a plantation, in rows or lines. We put everything in a line or in a box obsessed with order Natures’ order is being lost to this grid – a new effective arrangement.  We like it that way – easy, clean, safe … and sterile.

So, the barcode has become symbolic, representing mans reduction of the planet from forest and natural form, to plantation and farm, order – farming ourselves in the process.

Not just one straight line but a row of straight lines parallel to each – perfectly arranged. The scariest thing similarity emerging – from above, the planet is beginning to look like a circuit board.”

Makara Peak
Makara Peak