For Christmas 2007, Fiona Banner decorated the tree with 123 handmade kit models of all the world's fighter planes currently in service, anywhere in the world. She showed us around her studio, where she has been making model planes for the last 20 years, as she explained her alternative Christmas message.
Fiona Banner: I’m working on a piece that originally was called Parade and it’s made up of lots and lots of model aeroplanes. I first started making these aeroplanes when I was at college, when I was at Goldsmiths maybe 20 years ago. I compiled a list of all the fighter planes currently in service anywhere in the world. It actually took quite a long time to create that list and of course the list changes all the time. So there are about 120 fighter planes at the moment. At this point in time I’m pulling all the planes together because I’m going to decorate the tree at Tate Britain with fighter planes. On the tree will be all the worlds fighter planes, currently in commission in 2007. I thought it was a great idea to do the tree because the idea of a tree in itself is somewhat warped, that as a way of celebrating nature we chop down the beautiful, virile tree and bring it in doors and slowly look at it while it dies. It occurred to me that these planes in many way belong to nature, they have names that are of nature. For example this is a Sea Harrier, up there is a Black Hawk, there’s a Raven, there’s an Eagle. And also, oddly enough they are incredibly delicate. This fella here is a Bronco. Some of the planes I had moving in a way I felt they might move in combat according to their purpose. Some of them are resting, some of them are moving dynamically. This is a very beautiful plane actually, this Lancer. There’s a Blackbird. Stealth Bomber, which is like a big black shadow. Then right at the top, the fairy at the top, is the Starfighter, which is just like a massive great arrow up to the sky, but also looks like a cross, as many of these planes do when you see them from bird’s eye view. The ones that are free hanging move very slowly in the breeze. At the same time as it looking quite pretty, when you get up close very slowly I think you realise it isn’t pretty at all, it’s about this violent complicated stuff of war. Is it a celebration or is it something darker?