Spirit of the trees


Cabot Circus is a shopping centre adjacent to Broadmead shopping district which opened in September 2008, after a ten-year planning and building project costing £500 million. The Cabot Circus development contains shops, offices, a cinema, hotel and 250 apartments and covers a total of 139,350 m2 (1,500,000 sq. ft.) of floor space. As part of the development London based art consultants InSite Arts were commissioned to develop a permanent and temporary public art commissions programme which included Wolfgang Buttress’ ‘Spirit of the Trees’.


Wolfgang Buttress was commissioned to develop an artwork for the Podium site, a busy pedestrian hub located within the older Broadmead retail complex. His work ‘Spirit of the Trees’ is a series of 22 slender tree-like structures, ranging in height from one metre to nine metres which are arranged in clusters.

Wolfgang's sculptures forms a sculptural glade in the heart of the city, creating a sense of calm and tranquillity in a busy urban environment. Words and automatic writing - inspired by the artist's own personal poetry and the words of Massive Attack and Portishead - have been carved into the tree forms to evoke transition, loss, love and hope, and hark back to the age-old tradition of inscribing pledges of enduring love into the bark of a tree.

Wolfgang Buttress

Wolfgang Buttress is an award winning artist working with public space. He creates simple, elegant and contextual artworks which seek to define and celebrate a sense of place and the sublime.  His work alludes to histories, traces and memories which are both personal and contextual. Wolfgang has created artworks in the UK, Europe, Australia, USA, and Japan and has collaborated with many eminent Architects and Landscape architects: Lyons, Tadao Ando, LDA, Gillespies, BDP, and Conran and Partners.

Wolfgang has extensive experience working with metals, timber, concrete, light and glass, exploring and understanding their materiality, character, process and sustainability.  He believes the physicality of materials can involve an individual with the world, evoking experiences and texturing horizons of place through memory. A deep understanding of structure, process and scale informs the aesthetic of his work. By incorporating engineering principles at concept stage, the structure of the work is seamlessly integrated with its form.

InSite Arts

InSite Arts is a public art organisation founded by Sarah Collicott and Sam Wilkinson in 2001. InSite Arts works in partnership with its clients to generate and deliver innovative and relevant public art and arts initiatives in diversity of scales and in a wide variety of media.

InSite Arts develop strategies and artworks and have commissioned a wide range of projects from temporary events to permanent installations, from the more intimately scaled art projects through to major landmark installations integrated into the public realm and architectural schemes.

At the heart of their work is our staunch commitment to commissioning artwork which will inspire and intrigue, which become a fundamental part of a successful building, development, town or city. This can only be achieved by working closely with and supporting artists and clients throughout the course of the art project/programme, through to installation. Successfully conceived and delivered public artworks draw inspiration from a thorough understanding of location, the potential 'audience', history of the site and the aspirations of client and design team.

  • Commissioner

    The Bristol Alliance (Land Securities Group PLC and Hammerson plc)

  • Produced by

    InSite Arts

  • Partners

  • Supported by

    The Bristol Alliance (Land Securities Group PLC and Hammerson plc)