Vancouver’s Blue Trees

The Vancouver Biennale, a bi-annual public art exhibition that “turns the city into an open-air museum,” is featuring artist Konstantin Dimopoulos’ “The Blue Trees” this year. The installation is a set of trees that have received a rich yet enviromentally-safe “temporary colourant” designed to fade gradually over the course of a few weeks.

Art Market Canada says Dimopoulos’s public installations are meant to highlight the “importance of trees to the planet’s survival.” The artist said: “Through my work I am striving to […] provide a visual platform to effect change. So many global issues seem larger than an individual’s power of influence and I want to evoke in people the idea that we can all contribute to change in a positive way.”

The painted trees are actually newly planted just for this exhibition, which is a big plus for the city. Residents of the Richmond neighborhood get to keep the set once the blue vanishes. The artist says this is “an afforestation art action set within an urban context.”

Also, volunteers and loaned paint equipment made the installation fairly low-cost and simple. 

Egypt-born Dimopoulos is based in New Zealand where he has created Pacific Grass, a wind sculpture, as well as his well-known rod sculptures.  

Also, check out some of the other public art on view in Vancouver.

Image credit: (1) Vancouver Biennale blog, (2) Konstantin Dimopoulos, (3) Vancouver Biennale blog.

79 thoughts on “Vancouver’s Blue Trees

  1. chelseavose 03/29/2011 / 2:31 pm

    love this! what kind of paint do you use?

  2. Ava Aston's Muckery 03/29/2011 / 2:35 pm

    I’m glad you explained it was just an art exhibit. I was kinda thinking maybe I had Smurf on the brain as I looked at the photos.

    Great post today and congratulations on being Freshly Blue, oops, err I mean Freshly Pressed.



  3. PCC Advantage 03/29/2011 / 2:39 pm

    It almost looks like you photo-shopped the trees into the first picture (although I know you didn’t). 🙂

    Very cool..thanks for sharing!

  4. vanimator 03/29/2011 / 2:40 pm

    Wow, great idea of special color and new plantation of trees, a very very nice eco-friendly way of having an exhibition plus providing extra greenery to the environment. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. planejaner 03/29/2011 / 3:01 pm

    Those are beautiful, start, bright, hopeful…

    thanks for the pics, and congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  6. All County Insurance - Brea, California 03/29/2011 / 3:03 pm

    Interesting! I would also like to know what kind of paint was used for this project? Congrats on FP!

  7. kellelynn 03/29/2011 / 3:03 pm

    So cool! When we were in Chicago last year, they had some trees painted like this.

    I love the second picture!

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!


  8. J Roycroft 03/29/2011 / 3:05 pm

    This is art? To me this is a depressing display of ugly blue painted trees. Leave it to a so called artist to paint over the natural beauty of a tree with cheap paint and call it art. I hope the citizens weren’t expected to pay for it.
    Congrats on getting FP

  9. alvarmaz 03/29/2011 / 3:07 pm

    These are beautiful!!!

    But just a thought: is this “installation” intended to raise awareness about the importance of the trees? by changing their color?

    It is like stressing the importance of the real self of a person by plastic surgery, is it not? 😉

    • eva626 03/29/2011 / 3:13 pm

      ^ great comment fellow commenter!

    • Jason 04/06/2011 / 8:12 am

      When I saw the pictures I thought cool this looks neat. It reminded my of the fauvist movement. Then I read the words and thought…what a load of wank.

  10. eva626 03/29/2011 / 3:12 pm

    nice congrats on fp’d!!!

  11. juliafalci 03/29/2011 / 3:18 pm

    This is very cool! I wanna go see it : )

  12. wittybizgal 03/29/2011 / 3:21 pm

    How cool! I’m always looking for quirky things to Tweet, so thanks for this. 🙂 And, a very Big Blue congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  13. dougbrowncreative 03/29/2011 / 3:22 pm

    The latest installment in some very odd and compelling Vancouver public art. I remember the chairs on Sunset Beach and the upside down house in Coal Harbour – since moved. Thanks for bringing it to our attention and enjoy the Freshly Post ride!

  14. beingzhenya 03/29/2011 / 3:43 pm

    Oh, the two wonderful and perfect things combined – Nature and Art, such bliss! Heavenly! Thank you!

  15. DG MARYOGA 03/29/2011 / 3:49 pm

    An impressive, artistic eco-expression contributing to the preservation of our sorely tried, common “house”.
    Artists always have the power to sensitize people to environmental issues and through their Art protest against the wrongdoings.

  16. mcsnitches 03/29/2011 / 3:55 pm

    So quaint but effective, very nice 🙂

  17. Mikalee Byerman 03/29/2011 / 4:03 pm

    An interesting take on being “green.” Well, kinda…

    I can honestly say I’ve never seen such brilliant and sustainable public art. Very cool!


  18. countoncross 03/29/2011 / 4:22 pm

    I LOVE IT….so cool. Great Blog…Thank you

  19. Town Mouse 03/29/2011 / 4:24 pm

    Simple, effective, beautiful, cheering. I love it! Thank you.

  20. paintlater 03/29/2011 / 4:31 pm

    How beautiful, now I’m definitely not feeling so blue as those trees. The concept so simple but the impact so great!

  21. Jenny 03/29/2011 / 4:34 pm

    A painting on canvas that shows birch trees in an unusual blue shade sounds really interesting. Slapping paint on the trees themselves seems wrong to me—it somehow suggests an idea of improving on nature. The trees by themselves are glorious, and I know that if I ever saw these blue-painted trees, I would have a gut reaction against it.

  22. newfrankyj 03/29/2011 / 4:39 pm

    Very cool! I live in Point Roberts and will go check it out! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  23. carol 03/29/2011 / 5:05 pm

    Very different.

  24. SWK 03/29/2011 / 5:35 pm

    Glad the paint is safe paint. Love this idea… how creative!

  25. Steph 03/29/2011 / 5:39 pm

    That’s really neat 🙂

  26. ron abbass 03/29/2011 / 5:45 pm

    Blue trees?! Why didn’t the Creator-God think of that idea? Unless of course there is such a thing in nature as blue trees.

    When I viewed the photos, I don’t know why, but the movie “Avatar” came to mind. lol

    Nonetheless, a creative and unique concept to attract the public’s attention. (thumbs up) 🙂

  27. Minaretmuse 03/29/2011 / 6:00 pm

    Because green would have been too obvious? I had to laugh at “an afforestation art action set within an urban context.” But congratulations on your plantation, the planet could surely use a few more.

  28. deanna wigmore 03/29/2011 / 6:00 pm

    Cool concept, a lasting exhibit for residents to enjoy. Perhaps we should all let life imitate art and plant some trees.
    Ironically, I’m in Disneyland right now where there actually are blue trees, and bushes shaped into everything imaginable, but when I get back to Vancouver I will check them out.

  29. theamberlight 03/29/2011 / 6:16 pm

    Lovely! Glad I got to see this and know about it!!! I love the world right now, crazy as it is!!! Thanks for doing your part to sew us together! Good Job on Freshly Pressed too!!!

  30. BREWPRINTS 03/29/2011 / 6:57 pm

    This is great! I love they are doing something so expressive for their biennial that can be shared with publicly.

  31. louisesmithers 03/29/2011 / 7:21 pm

    What a great idea, might just go out the back and paint my trees blue right now. Looks amazing.

  32. Devil's Antagonist 03/29/2011 / 7:27 pm

    That does look pretty awesome…

  33. Jacey Faye 03/29/2011 / 7:29 pm

    This is beautiful. It’s so simple, yet so compelling and pleasing to look at — I love how effective it is at getting its point across. 🙂

  34. fireandair 03/29/2011 / 7:33 pm

    “rich yet enviromentally-safe”

    Color me skeptical on that one.

  35. ecogiftsonline 03/29/2011 / 8:12 pm

    Hi What a fantastic bright blue – would love to know what the name of it is. And I love that the community get to keep the trees once the paint wears off.

    Just beautiful – and a lot of fun.

  36. Lisa 03/29/2011 / 8:36 pm

    Very cool…love it!

  37. Harold 03/29/2011 / 8:42 pm

    Blue is the new green! 🙂

    Congrats on being FP!

  38. elenamusic 03/29/2011 / 9:27 pm

    That is like the coolest ever! Amazing! Great pics!

  39. Nederland 03/29/2011 / 9:47 pm

    Very nice photography of art exhibit. Art is very important in helping the brain reach its full potential. It introduces the brain to diverse cognitive skills that help us unravel intricate problems. Art activates the creative part of our brain – the part that works without words and can only express itself non-verbally. Art, in thought and through the creative processes, activates the imaginative and creative side, the spatial and intuitive side of our brain.

  40. Nat 03/29/2011 / 10:04 pm

    Very cool!

  41. Rod 03/29/2011 / 10:22 pm

    Why paint trees?

    “importance of trees to the planet’s survival.” ???

    Sure that is how important they are for humans. And trees and forests are better let alone by themselves. If we can keep off slash-burn farmers and all other forest exploiters from trees and forests, they will do better. Yes, by themselves.

    keep away ridiculous humans from trees and forests!

  42. Sister Earth Organics 03/29/2011 / 10:38 pm

    looks like this exhibit has sparked a lot of different views and discussions….just what art is supposed to do!
    Thanks for sharing!

  43. Katie Gou 03/30/2011 / 3:29 am

    Great to see some eco-friendly art and a gift that keeps on giving!

  44. Chauncy Gardiner 03/30/2011 / 3:42 am

    With the playoffs approaching, I can’t help but think that a lot of people will see this as part of Canucks fever.

  45. Jackie Paulson 1966 03/30/2011 / 3:56 am

    What a brilliant idea.

  46. leadinglight 03/30/2011 / 5:00 am

    That’s a creative way of implementing an exhibition beneficial to our ecosystem. I’m impressed and inspired by the creativity.

  47. jule1 03/30/2011 / 5:13 am

    The idea of blue trees didn’t strike me, mentally, as appealing, but on seeing your pictures I’m struck by their whimsy. Also, the freshness. I’m amazed anyone would think of doing this, and equally amazed that the entire project was so well-thought out, using the environmentally safe colorant, and also allowing the community to keep the trees. That’s art on a large scale that I can feel tremendous support for, since it accomplishes several things at once and benefits the community where it was installed.

    Bravo to Vancouver and Mr. Dimopoulos for this interesting, attractive and beneficial endeavor. And to you for bringing it to us!!

  48. James 03/30/2011 / 5:19 am

    Oh, I can imagine how AWESOME this would look in the fall if the timing were right. The trees could be colored vivid green, when the leaves are changing to green and brown and red and orange and yellow. The inverse of normal.

  49. rtcrita 03/30/2011 / 7:01 am

    I think if I were walking through those trees I would feel like I was in the middle of a Dr. Seuss book!

  50. mrthekidd 03/30/2011 / 7:50 am

    Creative genius. Also, I love the blue, it’s so vibrant. Congrats on FP’d!

  51. renxren 03/30/2011 / 8:55 am

    Must be catching event, one made to inspire all.

  52. versa kay 03/30/2011 / 9:03 am

    I have seen people painting themselves with silver paint and standing still like statues for hours together. No body seems to claim it as an art form or something aimed at highlighting the plight of the poor humans.

  53. destiny2b 03/30/2011 / 10:39 am

    Thank you for sharing this! I applaud the artist for doing something so simple, yet so poignant! I love that he used trees, because I am absolutely obsessed with trees. They are all so beautiful and unique and look as if they all have stories to share with us, if we could only hear them!

  54. danielmanoe 03/30/2011 / 11:00 pm

    nice idea!

  55. SoapBird 04/04/2011 / 6:14 pm

    Creative! Like it! Great blog. 🙂

  56. Jason 04/06/2011 / 8:20 am

    I thought the connection between painting the trees blue and the message rather weak.

    If they wanted to bring to light the importance of trees they should have made the area a park. With a bench overlooking the beautiful gardens. But instead of putting in trees and healthy looking plants put in tree stumps and dead scrubs. Turn what is supposed to be a showcase of plants and the natural world into a showcase of want it would be like without their presence.

    What I would have done…

    • WPArtist 04/07/2011 / 9:57 am

      I think you might be missing the point. Boy do I think you’re missing the point. And I guess there’s no winter where you are.

      Winter: It’s the time when trees lose their leaves. And the third picture: Those are the trees in the process of being planted. Once they are planted, the trees will be upright, as shown in the first picture.

      Okay: Almost done. You do know that the paint is “temporary”? And you do know that the trees will “leaf out”? And you do know that prior to this, the area was probably just a dirt lot, but now: It’s a “green space”, with trees. I think another term for that could be “park”.

      Good. I hope you get it now.

      Cheers! Thanks alot!!!

      • Jason 04/09/2011 / 1:33 am

        Yeah I’m pretty sure the message is sailing clear over my head too!

        I realise the paint is temporary and the trees will leaf out. Is there any reason for choosing the color blue? Maybe the photos don’t do it justice. How does painting them blue make people think “you know what, we need more trees”?

        Maybe I am focusing on the wrong thing. The painting of the trees was unimportant and it was the community participation?

        I’m not trying to be a jerk. I am genuinely curious.


    • Jason 04/12/2011 / 8:06 am

      That’s what I thought

  57. WPArtist 04/18/2011 / 6:11 pm


    But: You’re leaving out the human factor that tends to look at landscape backgrounds as landscape backgrounds.

    By painting the trees blue, the artist forces one to see the trees. Were one to just plant them, they would be lost in the background of landscape. You could say that no one would see the trees for the forest.

    And when one is forced to contemplate the sudden apperance of blue trees they will a) see these trees anew, and b) see the surrounding trees in comparison.

    When it comes to trees, we as a society are not observant and simply take them for granted.

    Painting trees blue is not about painting trees blue, it is about seeing the natural world in contrast.

    Like Chirsto’s Gates had nothing to do with orange gates, it was about getting people engaged in a winter landscape that most had never seen. Hell! Who goes to Central Park in winter?!

    • Jason 04/19/2011 / 12:56 am

      Thanks for that! Makes a lot more sense now. Really appreciate you taking the time to explain it to me. Missing the point was an understatement I think!

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