Art exhibition raises awareness of growing wildfire risk and funds reforestation

In the aftermath of last summer’s forest fire in Sardinia, artist Michele Ardu has created a series of artworks to raise funds for reforestation and awareness of the ever-increasing risk of such events.

Under the title Aurum Urens’ (Latin for Ardent gold’), 15 photos and 30 sculptures were recently exhibited at the Magazzini del Sale in Siena, Tuscany.

I wanted visitors to the exhibition to feel the atmosphere of the destroyed orchards, including the smell of fire and earth.– Michèle Ardu, artist, Aurum Urens

A few months after the fire, a national newspaper called me for a photo report on the affected region of Montiferru,” Ardu told Olive Oil Times. When I first walked into a fire-stricken olive grove, I felt like I was on a battlefield.

Yet in such devastation and sadness, I was struck by the elegance and dignity that the remains of the trees have retained despite the irreparable damage,” he added. Then I realized that art could be a powerful tool to stimulate thought and convey a positive message.

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Ardu collected pieces of burnt olive trees and entire plants, mostly from a 10-hectare grove almost completely destroyed by flames.

Located in Cuglieri, the plot is adjacent to the thousand-year-old oleaster of Sa Tanca Manna, which after the devastation has recently shown signs of life.

The culture and economy of this region, where I come from, is strongly linked to olive growing,” said Ardu, who was born in Oristano and lived in London for several years.

This orchard has belonged to the same family for generations,” he added. The owner told me that it was planted in the mid-1600s. It is clear that the burnt olive trees are damage within the damage, for the destruction of environmental and historical heritage and also for the loss of jobs.

(Photo: Francesco Orru)

Using the gold leaf technique, he covered the olive fragments with a layer of gold. The configuration of the exhibition included the gold pieces and the installations obtained from the charred olive trees.

I wanted visitors to the exhibition to feel the atmosphere of destroyed orchards, including the smell of fire and earth,” Ardu said, noting that multi-sensoryness is a major element in his works.

Olive trees and nature in general are so precious,” he said. Everyone can understand that gold has value and that the disturbances caused by fire result in lifeless coal. I imagined that this art installation could announce the key value of nature, convey an encouragement to overcome the event of death and destruction while doing something concretely good.


(Photo: Francesco Orru)

Ardu synthesizes his vision of art as an experience that should impact the viewer due to its universal language.

Wildfires have hit many communities in several countries,” he said. They represent a growing problem closely linked to the issue of climate change, but I think there is still no real understanding of the need for effective prevention, but I believe that everyone can do their part, and c is mine.

His plan is to bring this exhibition to other countries, such as Spain and California, which have also suffered damage from forest fires.

The idea is to create Aurum Urens parks around the world to raise awareness of the importance of prevention,” concluded Ardu. Part of the proceeds from the sales will be used to continue the project and plant new trees in the affected areas.

James C. Tibbs