I have recently become fascinated by the concept of the xylotheque; essentially a library of wood. More exactly, a collection of wooden boxes, in the style of books, each made from an individual species.
Fashionable during 18th century, the xylotheque was a collection of boxes that catalogued and illustrated different species of tree. With a spine covered in the bark, complete with lichens and mosses, inside were samples of leaves in various states of life cycle, root samples, blossoms, seeds, fruits or nuts. Some even had pages made of leaves! Tucked away in the spine was a small lidded niche containing a document with more detailed information.
Not content with detailed illustrations in prestigious, leather-bound academic tomes, these great botanical explorers decided to use the trees themselves to present their findings, creating a sort of cabinet of curiosities for each each tree, each carefully presented to show as much information in a visually stimulating recepticle. They also had to chop down a fair few trees as well, which kind of misses the point a bit.
The first image shows how a collection can be an impressive and useful resource but with a little more poking around on the internetogramme, more comprehensive and sophisticated examples can be found:
These images are of the Schildbach Xylotheque in Kassel, Germany, which consists of 530 books of 441 trees, collected between 1771 – 1799, now presented in purpose built cabinetry.
So now I’m going to explore this concept, using repurposed and salvaged materials. Watch this space…