The Connaught Hotel has unveiled its “Christmas Tree” in Carlos Place, London. This year, the tree is designed by Antony Gormley who says it is made from branches of a Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata. Today, Thuja is native only in North America and Eastern Asia.
The 17.5m tall trunk has been transformed into a tapering column of brilliant light, supporting branches and foliage.
The Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata, is cultivated commercially for use as a garden hedge, an alternative to Leylandii hedging. It is slower growing but still provides a dense, evergreen, conifer hedge. The leaves hang in sprays which are clipped to shape in early autumn.
Gormley collaborated with Zumtobel and their team of lighting innovators on this project. Rather than decorate the outside of the tree they lit its core, the trunk, transforming it into a radiant centre against which the branches become illuminated and silhouetted.
Last year’s tree was by Damien Hirst and attracted criticism for its display of syringes and scissors: