One hundred years ago, the founders of Canberra staked out the new capital by planting a million trees. This sapling urban forest spoke of their faith in the future of a city they would never live to see. Today, their legacy is the vast green cloak from which Canberra emerges—a growing city in a landscape.

In 2013 the National Library of Australia hosts City of Trees, UK artist Jyll Bradley’s multi-disciplinary project based on the simple premise that every tree in Canberra has a human story to tell. Over a series of artist residencies commissioned by the Centenary of Canberra, Bradley has created a major body of work, including sound, photography and drawings, for this solo exhibition. The exhibition takes the form of an immersive installation, with light—the basis for tree growth and the force that illuminates hidden stories—a constant agent throughout. The centrepiece of the exhibition are three specially designed ‘portals’, where visitors can listen to the stories and thoughts of the myriad of people in Canberra and the region for whom trees are a passion, profession or a way of life.

In homage to the Library and its collections, works on paper and the printed page feature prominently in the exhibition. Visitors can take away a newsprint work of art by Bradley juxtaposing her images of the ‘city of trees’ with archival collections. Bradley’s sound recordings will also be added to the Library’s Oral History Collection.

City of Trees is a Centenary of Canberra project proudly supported by the ACT Government, the Australian Government and the National Library of Australia

Listen to or download Bradley's audio works.