The Bonsai Project

“Despite all our desires for untamed wilderness, culture and nature are intrinsically connected. As an intervention in nature, bonsai is very artificial, but within it lies a deep knowledge of, and longing for nature. It is an understanding in which large manifests its self in small and vice versa. Precisely in this intervention – the knowing of nature from within – the essence of the culture/nature relationship is being sought within our culture…”

Professor Erik A de Jong                                                

(for more text scroll down)


The Bonsai Project is a collaboration with Sjoerd Knibbeler. Between 2007 and 2010 we traveled to various parts of the world, in search of the most iconic bonsai trees we could find. Bonsai is a century old horticultural tradition, which has adapted itself to changing views on nature over time. In our modern day city-based society our relationship with nature is mostly determined by scarcity of recourses and space. Less and less people become members of environmental organizations, because nature as a landscape, as a system and as biodiversity, doesn’t appeal to them. People long for identification with nature, with the animal, the plant, the tree. It’s closer to them and more tangible, because in this cross pollination between our culture and this more individualistic nature, lies an inherently felt understanding. We know it, but we cannot articulate it.

The Bonsai Project has been generously supported by Fonds BKVB (now Mondriaan Fund) and Materiaalfonds.