A photographic project by Garry Trinh

Dark Opera House foyers, with stone wall covering most of the image, and steps on the right hand side. Sunlight partially hits the stairs.


Artist Garry Trinh’s Giant Bonsai (2011 - ) is an ongoing photographic project that celebrates the incidental charms of creative urban vegetation pruning in Sydney. Using the act of Flânerie, the process of deep looking while strolling, Trinh has wandered across suburbs, across cultures and across contexts throughout Sydney to document these charming moments of suburban landscaping. 

On the work, Trinh notes, “I am inspired by my surroundings and from the vast visual output of mass culture. I hope my work is uplifting, light, sincere and filled with a youthful exuberance. My camera is an extension of my eyes and mind. I never leave the house without a camera. I’m continuously seeing photographic opportunities wherever I am. I believe it's not what you look at but what you see. Bonsai trees are known for their calming and healing presence. I hope some of those qualities transfer through the screen. Or at least raises a smile.”

This digital presentation of Giant Bonsai is commissioned by the Sydney Opera House for ANTIDOTE – a festival of ideas, action & change. For more information about contemporary art at the Opera House, click here.

“I began noticing these cut trees while I was driving around Sydney. The project started when I came up with a name for them.”
“I kept a step ladder in my car for a few years to help me photograph these trees with the least amount of distortion.”
“I enjoy finding creativity in unexpected places.”
“I have waited weeks to photograph trees under ideal conditions. I like to shoot when the sky is bright blue and the sun spotlights the right parts of the tree.”
“Some of the trees are from these species: Deciduous Fig, Brush Box, Hills Weeping Fig, Holm Oak, Camphor Laurel.”

“Unanticipated obstacles include parked cars, power poles, other trees and suspicious homeowners.”

“The thicker the foliage the better the bonsai.”

“I look for trees that have been freshly cut. The foliage has an extra bounce and it smells like cut flowers.”

“They are trimmed in small clusters all over Sydney. Find one and there will likely be half a dozen on the next street.”
“Creating this project has made me aware of how green our city is and what we have done to tame nature.”

“Where there is repetition, there is opportunity for creativity.”
“In the land of giant bonsai we are all small.”

Artist Biography

Garry Trinh is an artist working in photography, video, painting and works on paper. He makes art about the uncanny, unexpected and spontaneous moments in daily life. He is inspired by his surroundings and from the vast visual output of mass culture. He is perplexed by the perception of artists as coffee-drinking loafers who work whenever they feel like it. He doesn't even drink coffee. His works are about a way of looking at the world, to reveal magic in the mundane. He is never bored and never late.

He holds a BA in Psychology and a BA in Visual Communications / Photography and Digital Imaging from the University of Western Sydney. His work is collected by the Art Gallery of NSW and Artbank. He has been exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Blacktown Arts Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Stills Gallery, Gallery 4A and many others.

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Photography and words by Garry Trinh
Edited by Micheal Do and Dominic Ellis