Julia Griffin and Steve Sutton


Collaboration between Artists Julia Griffin and Steve Sutton. 

To experience life, A Tree must live

To experience fire, A Tree must die

By Herman Wallace 2006

About ‘Trap’

‘Trap’ is an exploration of the relationship between a sculptural installation and the temporality of live performance. The work is a moving sculpture that consists of arranged tree limbs, creating an illuminated shadow landscape that shifts through different hues of colour. Tangles of bunched branches are woven into a metal cage that conceal the choreography of a slowly moving body.

When entering this caged interior space, the body is challenged by sharp branches pointing towards it, harshly piercing the outer mesh ‘skin’. The branches create liminal feelings from both natural forces and human fears. ‘Trap’ engenders feelings of tension and unease suggested by both the physical liminal space and the change of environment encountered by the human. The uncertain structure entices the human body to enter and explore the complex interior space, trapping and overwhelming them, akin to a fly entering an insectivorous plant. Beneath the hovering tree root the entrapment is palpable. 

The body, trapped, navigates and inhabits the fragments of ‘re-ordered’ and disembodied trees, roots hanging from above, branches encased within the construction. The moving body shifts slowly, almost imperceptibly through the frame of the cage, sitting, standing, twisting, extending limbs folding, appearing, and disappearing into the structure. It is a doorway into a frame within a frame, trapped, multiple narratives emerge, dissolve, reappear and repeat. 

‘Trap’ explores the concept of trauma as sculpture and it is also about humans and their relationship to the natural world and each other. It questions how we deal in an ongoing and durational way with affective states that may include the deep social ambivalence that seeps into the way we maintain the lives of ourselves, others, and the natural world we all inhabit.


The work has involved the construction and deconstruction of found objects including commercial retail trolleys, recycled wood, sustainably sourced trees, recycled wire.

Sketch drawings of a cage structure were made by Steve as conversations on common themes and ideas started to emerge between the artists. 

Julia has experimented by moving within the cage to plan the choreography at different stages of construction of the installation.

Some initial video documentation during the construction process has been made.

Work on lighting, sound production and video recording is in progress.

Further Questions to explore

How does the permanence of sculpture sit alongside the ephemerality of live performance?

How can we explore the notion of natural time with manmade time and how does that fit with durational performance?


Herman Wallace spent 42 years in solitary confinement. He lived in a 6ft by 9ft cell with no human contact for 23 hours a day, 7 days a week for those 42 years. Wallace had his conviction overturned and was freed three days before his death from cancer at the age of 71, on the 4th October 2013.

‘Enduring Time’ by Lisa Baraitser. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2017)

Image: Julia Griffin

All work featured in the Creative Lives Gallery 2022 belongs to the artists and can only be reproduced with their permission.

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