Franz Huber’s Family Trees („Stammbaum“)
Ancient knowledge presented in a new art form
AN INTERVIEW WITH FRANZ HUBER BY A LOCAL NEWSPAPER
HT: Franz, how did you come up with the idea of sculpting family trees?
FH: It definitely wasn’t an overnight inspiration, rather an idea developed over many years. I’ve always been fascinated by trees, especially those that have grown somewhat differently. I believe they are simply too precious to end up as firewood. I sensed that there must be more to them than meets the eye. You know, there’s even a tree in the Hubers’ family crest (laughs). No, seriously, I didn’t comprehend the whole range of possibilities of what I could do before a dear friend of mine went on an expedition to Sri Lanka. When she returned she showed me a picture of a ‘holy tree’. I was thrilled and fully determined to dive deeper into the matter of energetic potential of trees.
HT: What do you mean by ‘energetic potential‘?
FH: The trees I work with, from the perspective of the farmer, are past their prime. Such trees have endured much. The endless circle of seasons, all types of weather, injuries caused by people or animals. They still bear fruit, just not as much as they used to, as much as the farmer would wish. What the farmer doesn’t know is how much energy such trees are able to mobilize. Energy that is stored inside the wood. It’s similar to a broken bone. The spot of the fracture adheres in such a way that it’s almost impossible to break again. The body has mobilized a lot of energy to accomplish this. Just as the trees do. Through my work, the tree can continue to provide its energy to us. But first it has to be attuned to its new environment very sensibly. The tree should not over-energize or under-energize its new owners. It has to be just right. It’s about finding the right balance.
HT: So the tree has to be attuned to his new owner?
FH: No, rather, it’s the other way round. The tree selects its new family. There has to be a ‘spark’ between the tree and its new owners, only then can my art reveal its full potential. Only then will the tree trunk morph into a family tree (‘Baumstamm – Stammbaum’) and fulfill its important role.
HT: And what role is that exactly?
FH: The family tree or ‘Stammbaum‘ yields its energy to its environment. The house or office is saturated with the optimum level of energy. People become more settled, more balanced. In order for this to work, my clients let me know the exact location where they want to place their family tree. Then we will select the fitting tree trunk together.
HT: When you have found the perfect tree trunk, how long does it take to create this piece of art?
FH: It depends on the stage of manufacture of the selected tree. The whole process takes at least 6 months. Each single step has to be taken very carefully. Then there are periods during which the wood has to dry. It’s a natural material, and it tells me when it’s ready for the next step.
HT: I guess that requires a lot of intuition?
FH: Yes, it really does. And because of my different skills and professions, I’m fortunate to be able to accentuate the full beauty and energy of this wonderful natural material. Being a farmer as well as an arborist and a landscaper has really opened my senses to the beauty of nature and its hidden treasures. I’ve always loved to work with wood, as a carpenter or a carver of wooden figures, pictures and inlays. For several years I used to frame artful paintings and embroideries from my canton, Appenzell. It taught me the necessary concentration and attention to detail required to work with precious materials.
HT: This sounds truly impressive. I can imagine such works of art can be quite expensive?
FH: For me, the task is clearly foregrounded. Of course, quality and knowhow have their price, and on more rational terms, I don’t want my family to starve but as I said the creative process as such is most important to me. Most of my customers are fairly well-off people or companies. What makes me really happy is that all my clients go home with huge smiles on their faces, happy with their new family tree. And it’s the greatest compliment for me and my art that they keep sending their friends and relatives to me as well. It gives me the great satisfaction that my work is cherished and needed.
HT: Thank you very much, Franz.