"Embassy of Trees" ©Ellen Bornkessel
"Embassy of Trees" ©Ellen Bornkessel

The “Embassy of Trees” was established in 2018 by artist Ellen Bornkessel to give nature a voice.
Nature is being forced out of the spaces we live in, and we are experiencing a great number of species becoming extinct.
Our world is becoming ever emptier. We are paying a high price for the material goods we gain from destroying our planet.
Through the medium of art, the “Embassy of Trees” creates a diplomatic representation of the forest in the city and that way give trees a voice. Something that had seemingly been lost is returning to the space we inhabit and reminds us of our connections with it.
The project places large photo installations of forests in the urban sphere – where they are unexpected and thus confuse.
“What is the forest doing in the city?” They render visible what we lack, what we destroy, and this way inspire us to act.
They also bring about a hint of magic and beauty into our hyper-optimised lives. In spaces where we would usually see only ads, we now find nature watching us.
As one instance of the project, a photo installation of a forest around 100 metres in length was set up to surround Cologne Cathedral, a world heritage site. A public-transit bus in the German town of Monheim was converted into a forest on wheels. These contextual shifts, a rededication of advertising space create great positive attention.
The “Embassy of Trees” sparks people’s desire for pristine nature, and for more nature in cities, and makes the very contradiction explicit that we are living, while also aiming at our options.
We can live sustainably!

“In my landscape stills, I look for the ‘glow’ of the forests. I am interested in the wild and powerful nature, the energy of which I want to transmit into cities through my pictures. I hope to be able to touch many people and to encourage even more to take action. Plant a tree today!”
Ellen Bornkessel

Embassy of Trees: "Forest Dream"

"DREAM A NEW FUTURE", Photoinstallation, metro station, Neumarkt, Cologne, 02 - 15. march 2021

Forest Bus mobile photoinstallation Monheim Rhine

Press Release
“Embassy of Trees” are opening their embassy at Monheim on the Rhine. The forest will return to the city from 7 February to 30 July 2020. Through her “Embassy of Trees” project, artist Ellen Bornkessel brings the forest to the city and gives trees a voice.
Her photo installations show forests. For Monheim, she has created a ‘forest bus’. She goes into the forest to photograph trees in a way to reflect their entire power and beauty. Her photos capture her individual experience of the forest. One of these forest photos covers a public-transit bus and this way literally brings the forest into the city. This way, nature appears in the space we live in in a playful way. The “Forest Bus” turns an everyday bus ride into an art experience.
It creates a piece of art that is freely accessible, which triggers emotions through its adventurous character and is a sensual experience for anyone regardless of their age and background. Experiencing the forest is not limited to the visible, though. Inside the bus, there are subtle but perceptible natural forest scents. Passengers on the bus will find memories of trees triggered through the scent. “Forest Bus” is part of the “Embassy of Trees” project. It brings nature to the city and gives it a voice: “I want to create something that reawakens our sense of connection with nature in a playful and light way. I want to embolden people to tackle the challenges of climate change head-on and to have beauty and naturalness come into our lives.”
“Embassy of Trees” by Ellen Bornkessel
Exhibition curated by Fabian Lasarzik.

Catalogue: “Forest Bus”, Kettler Verlag, ISBN 978-3-86206-822-7

embassy of trees

Installation at Cologne Cathedral "Kölner Dom"

Press Release
Through the “Embassy of Trees”, artist Ellen Bornkessel brings nature back into the city. Her large-size photographs of trees will be on display outside Cologne Cathedral from 7 to 21 February. They are a stark reminder that only a green city is a liveable city.

Our cities are growing. Space being limited, it is becoming a rare commodity. Economic interests exist in opposition to people’s need for calm and clean air. Ellen Bornkessel gives trees a voice in this field of tension. In her current installation outside Cologne Cathedral she places life-size images of tree scenes attached to building-site fences next to each other. Visitors stroll past the installation as though they were walking through a forest. Viewing the photographs, the magic and aestheticism of nature unfolds. At the heart of the bustling city centre they have a particularly soothing and liberating effect. Humans need nature, also and particularly in the city.

This installation launches the “Embassy of Trees” project including art, presentations and performances. Like any other diplomatic representation, the embassy of trees connects two worlds: that of the city and that of the forest. “As an artist, I am taking a stance by establishing the Embassy of Trees,” Bornkessel explains. She appeals to us to reconcile with nature, campaign for climate protection and to plant trees. Nature’s wildness, power and beauty that returns to the city through this project equally is a call for greater vitality, diversity and beauty in our lives.

On 12 April, tree seedlings will be given to passers-by on Cathedral Square (“Domvorplatz”) just outside Cologne Cathedral.

installation in front of Cologne City Hall, 7. - 20 Juni 2018


Michael Horbach Foundation, Cologne
Galerie in focus guest in the  Michael Horbach Foundation
Curator: Burkhard Arnold
13. Mai - 27. Mai 2018
Opening: 13. Mai I 11 Uhr - 14 Uhr


Wednesday and Friday
15:30 - 19:30, Sonntag 11 - 14 Uhr


A b o u t   Ellen Bornkessel and "Embassy of Trees"

from the series: "Tree Winter"
from the series: "Tree Winter"

"Embassy of Trees" evolved through work on the photographic series "Tree Winter". The whole scene was immersed in a beautiful winter light and at the same time it stank of exhaust fumes. This paradisiacal world was sinking in the smog. That was the moment when I realised something had to done. Talking to Eva Wild, the director of the Rainforest Art Foundation Europe, the idea arose of showing the trees on fences and bringing them to the public.


We are living in extreme times- species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate and major climate problems are approaching us. The world is getting emptier. We pay a heavy price for the material goods we receive in return for the destruction of our planet.


Our world is at a point where we have no time left for discussion- it’s time for action. The "Embassy of Trees" appeals to us to plant trees and show solidarity with nature.


My photographs often convey unreal, enchanted moods. I am interested in the parallel worlds that exist alongside a profit-oriented, optimised society and that develop their own magic and power. Nature itself, increasingly banished from the cities, has become a parallel world, even though we humans are part of it. Nature often seems paradise-like to me. I would like to bring some of this power back into the world through my photography.

My photgraphic work: www.ellen-bornkessel.com


born in Hammelburg, Germany

1995-1997 Visual Arts, University of Applied Sciences, Bielefeld

1997-2001 Academy of Visual Arts,HGB Leipzig, Class of Prof. Brohm , Photography

Class of Prof. D Ùrbano, Mediaarts, Diploma

2001-2002 Masterclass of Prof. D Urbano

2014- 2016 lecturer in photography, HMKW, University of Applied Sciences, Cologne

since 2018 Member German Photographic Association

lives and works in Cologne, Germany


Awards/Grants/ Catalogues / Fundings

2018 Member of German Photographic Association

2015 Nomination grant Hoepfner Stiftung for "play"

2013 "play" monographic catalogue, Klartextverlag

2013 Zollverein Foundation, exhibition and cataloguefunding for "play"

2012 "Promethiade", catalogue, documentation of the european festival "Promethiade" with Dr. Frank Raddatz

2009 Goethe Institute Peking, travelfundung for "Together in Movement"-Contemporary Art from china and Germany

2009 Exhibitionfunding from the Cultural Office of Cologne for "play"

2004  European Union, grant for Triangle project

1999 grant Rheinisches Industriemuseum Oberhausen



2018 "Embassy of Trees" Installation, World Heritage Cologne Cathedral

2018 "Embassy of Trees" Michael Horbach Stiftung, Cologne

2018 "Embassy of Trees" Installation, Cologne City Hall

2013 „play“, Ruhr Museum, Unesco world heritage Zollverein, Germany (Catalogue)

2010 „Easy Beauty“, Gallery Loris, Berlin

2009 „Night“, Dance-Videoperformance with pretty ugly dance, Arkadas , Cologne, Germany

2009 „The StandingStills“, Gallery Loris, Berlin

2009 „play“ Moltkerei, Cologne, Germany

2008 „play“ Gallery Loris, Berlin


Exhibitions and Screenings (Selection)

2017 Stadt-Landschaften, in focus Gallery, Cologne, Germany

2016 Begira Photofestival, Museo de Arte e Historia, Durango (Bizkaia), Spain

2015 Exhibition grant Hoepfnerfoundation, "Stadttraum-Traumstadt", Karlsruhe

2012 „Photographs from Elsewhere“ at fotofreo Foto Biennale Perth, Australia

2011 „diamonds and pearls“, Gallery Loris, Berlin

2011 „The Best of all possible Worlds“, Carpe Diem Art Space, Lissabon

2009 „Together in Movement“ Contemporary Art from China and Germany,Museum of Arts, Wuhan, China (Catalogue)

2008 „1:1“, Gallery Loris Berlin, Month of Photography (Catalogue)

2008 „Loop 08“, VideoArtFair, Barcelona

2007 „they rule the Valley“, Gallery Loris, Berlin

2006 „Pulsar“, Mediaartsfestival, Caracas Venezuela

2005 Recontres Internationales Paris /Berlin, Centre Culturel Suedois, Paris, France (Catalogue)

2005 „Pulsar“ at Museum of modern Art, Cali, Kolumbia

2004 Festival International De Filmes De Femmes, Creteil, France

2004 Sydney Film Festival, Sydney, Australia

2003 ArtFilmBiennale, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (Catalogue)

2003 International Munich Filmweek, Munich, Germany (Catalogue)

2003 „Musterwelt“, halle für kunst, Lüneburg, Germany

2003 „radiator 2“, Nottingham, England

2002 „Arsenal“, Wandelhalle, Cologne (Catalogue)

2002 19. Kasseler Dokumentarfilm- und Videofest (Catalogue)

2002 Praterfernsehen, Volksbühne Berlin, Germany

2001 VideoEvento d Àrte, International Academy of Arts and Media, Turin

2001 „natural_mente“, Museum of natural Science, Leipzig, Germany (Catalogue)

2000 artKino, Art Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany (Catalogue)