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Willem Boshoff


A trilogy of three separate artworks, collaged in wood, that form a philosophical unit.

Sidenote: The artist, also known as Big Druid, is passionate about trees. In this artwork he brings homage to three sacred trees through their timbers. The name ‘druid’ means 'man of trees'. The old Greek myth has it that tree species are supposed to be married to dryads. They are special tree- or forest nymphs, looking after and protecting their trees. In fact, the word nymph means 'bride' in Greek. The dryads and the druids derive their names from the Greek drys, a word that in its original form denotes 'oak tree' and more generally 'tree'.


The artist owes much of his skill and love for wood to his father, Marthinus Christoffel (Martiens) Boshoff (1923-1985) a trained carpenter.

There are three letters in the name of each tree: A S H,  E L M  and  O A K 

Exhibition of the three artworks is in alphabetical order: A,  E,  O.

The three works are made in deference to Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) who had great respect for trees and whose ultimate artistic vocabulary was reduced to simple geometric elements.

Measurements of all three works framed: 925 mm (height) X 1850 mm (length). Frame width: 22 mm.


The oldest tribute to Ash Elm and Oak


Ulmus vero et fraxinus maximos habent umores minimumque aeris et ignis, terreni temperate mixtione comparatae. Sunt in operibus cum fabricantur lentae et ab pondere umoris non habent rigorem et celeriter pandant. simul autem vetustate sunt aridae factae aut in agro proiecto qui inest eis liquore stantes emoiuntur, fiunt duriores et in commissuris et coagmentationibus ab lentitudine firmas recipiunt catenationes.



Contra vero quercus terrenis principiorum satietatibus abundans parumque habens umoris et aeris et ignis, cum in terrenis operibus obruitur, infinitam habet aeternitatem. Ex eo cum tangitur umore, non habens foraminum raritates propter spissitatem non potest in corpus recipere liquorem, sed fugiens ab umore resistit et torquetur et efficit, in quibus est operibus, ea rimosa.


The elm tree and the ash contain much water and but little air and fire, with a moderate portion of earth. They are therefore pliant, and being so full of water, and from want of stiffness, soon bend under a superincumbent weight. When, however, from proper keeping after being felled, or from being well dried while standing to discharge their natural moisture, they become much harder, and in framings are, from their pliability, capable of forming sound work.


Oak, on the other hand, having enough and to spare of the earthy among its elements, and containing but little moisture, air, and fire, lasts for an unlimited period when buried in underground structures. It follows that when exposed to moisture, as its texture is not loose and porous, it cannot take in liquid on account of its compactness, but, withdrawing from the moisture, it resists it and warps, thus making cracks in the structures in which it is used.


Marcus Vitruvius Pollio — The Ten Books of Architecture: Book II,  Chapter IX, Sections VIII & XI. (Written c. 30 - 15 BC )


  • 1. ASH (Fraxinus exelsior)

    Work commenced 2017, completed 2018

    The three letters in the centre of the work, A, S, and H consist of thin, laminated strips of plywood lined up in the shape of the letters.

    A play on the word 'ash': ash as a tree and timber; ash as the result of burning wood and ash or ashes as the remains of a human body after cremation or burning - "ashes to ashes."

    In the Greek myth, the ash tree nymphs or Meliae were created by blood that fell on the earth when the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus.

    Small wood offcuts, mainly of ash wood, were salvaged from the band saw. On these are the black burn marks associated with the idea of ash.  The burn marks resemble small, repetitive lines hatched in black ink. They were accidentally made by the friction of a blunt band saw blade on the annual rings of ash wood.

    A great number of the slightly burnt wooden offcuts were arranged in a somewhat chequered pattern of squares (Mondrian) around the large wooden letters of the word 'ash'.

    All wood in the artwork ASH is treated against borer and other diseases.

    The work has a frame of ash wood.

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