Art Exhibition Raises Awareness of Growing Wildfire Risk, Funds Reforestation

Artist Michele Ardu's exhibition 'Aurum Urens' uses charred olive tree remains from Sardinia to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change.

Aurum Urens (Photo: Francesco Orrù)
By Ylenia Granitto
Oct. 6, 2022 12:30 UTC
Aurum Urens (Photo: Francesco Orrù)

In the after­math of last sum­mer’s wild­fire in Sardinia, artist Michele Ardu cre­ated a series of works of art to raise money for refor­esta­tion and aware­ness of the ever-grow­ing risk of such events.

Under the title Aurum Urens’ (Latin for Ardent gold’), 15 pho­tos and 30 sculp­tures were recently dis­played at the Magazzini del Sale in Siena, Tuscany.

I wanted the vis­i­tors of the exhibit to feel the atmos­phere of the destroyed orchards, includ­ing the smell of fire and earth.- Michele Ardu, artist, Aurum Urens

A few months after the blaze, a national news­pa­per called me for a photo reportage on the affected Montiferru area,” Ardu told Olive Oil Times. When I first walked into an olive groves hit by the fire, I felt like I was on a bat­tle­field.”

Yet in such dev­as­ta­tion and sad­ness, I was struck by the ele­gance and dig­nity that the remains of the trees kept despite the irrepara­ble dam­age,” he added. Then, I real­ized that art could be a pow­er­ful tool to stim­u­late reflec­tion and con­vey a pos­i­tive mes­sage.”

See Also:Olive Farmer Unearths an Ancient Mosaic in Gaza

Ardu col­lected burned pieces of olive trees and entire plants, mainly from a 10-hectare grove that was almost entirely destroyed by the flames.

Located in Cuglieri, the plot is adja­cent to the thou­sand-year-old oleaster of Sa Tanca Manna, which, after the dev­as­ta­tion, recently showed signs of life.

The cul­ture and econ­omy of this area, where I am orig­i­nally from, is strongly linked to olive farm­ing,” said Ardu, who was born in Oristano and lived in London for sev­eral years.

That orchard has belonged to the same fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions,” he added. The owner told me that it was planted in the mid-1600s. It is clear that the burned olive trees are dam­age within the dam­age, for the trash­ing of the envi­ron­men­tal and his­tor­i­cal her­itage and also for the job loss.”


(Photo: Francesco Orrù)

Using the gold leaf tech­nique, he cov­ered the olive tree frag­ments with a layer of gold. The exhi­bi­tion setup included the golden pieces and instal­la­tions obtained from the charred olive trees.

I wanted the vis­i­tors of the exhibit to feel the atmos­phere of the destroyed orchards, includ­ing the smell of fire and earth,” said Ardu, spec­i­fy­ing that multi-sen­so­ri­al­ity is a major ele­ment in his works.

The olive trees and nature, in gen­eral, are so pre­cious,” he said. Everyone can under­stand that gold is valu­able and that the dis­rup­tion caused by fire ends up in life­less coal. I imag­ined that this artis­tic instal­la­tion may announce the key value of nature, con­vey­ing encour­age­ment to over­come the event of death and destruc­tion while doing some­thing good in con­crete terms.”


(Photo: Francesco Orrù)

Ardu syn­the­sizes his vision of art as an expe­ri­ence that should impact the viewer due to its uni­ver­sal lan­guage.

Wildfires hit many com­mu­ni­ties in sev­eral coun­tries,” he said. They rep­re­sent a grow­ing prob­lem closely related to the cli­mate change issue, but I think there is still no real under­stand­ing of the need for effec­tive pre­ven­tion, yet I believe that every­one can do their part, and this is mine.”

His project is to bring this exhi­bi­tion to other coun­tries, such as Spain and California, which also have suf­fered wild­fire dam­age.

The idea is to cre­ate Aurum Urens’ parks around the world to build aware­ness about the impor­tance of pre­ven­tion,” Ardu con­cluded. Part of the pro­ceeds from sales will be used for con­tin­u­ing the project and plant­ing new trees in the areas affected.”

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