Tree Stories Exhibition, Sheffield Art House, 24 October-6 November 2015
Overlooked and oft-forgotten, carvings on trees and tree bark are a fascinating part of human cultural history. They go back in time to prehistoric times and were of significance to people such as aboriginals who lived in harmony with land and landscape. As herding and pastoral cultures developed, tree markings were important in navigating through landscapes and for recording times, places, people and incidents. A marked tree in northern Sweden in the 1800s and recorded by Rikard Andersson, states in a local dialect ‘We have lost three cows have you seen them?’ However, tree carvings occur widely in woods and parks today, from inner city Victorian parks to great parkland landscapes in our British countryside.
Following discussions at the September 2012 Trees Beyond the Wood conference, the project was set up to engage professionals and the public in an exciting proposal. Tree Stories is an interactive initiative to record and collect evidence of 'culturally marked trees' – from estate plaques, to graffiti and carvings in the bark.
Tree Stories scope ranges from present day to as far back as possible; from worked and working trees to casually marked ones. This has never been done before and we think it provides an opportunity to get members of groups involved; all they need is a digital camera.
Some of these Tree Stories are decades old, for example World War 2 poems or even older; others are more recent with hearts or flowers, peoples' initials or dates. Selected trees have become covered in this 'graffiti' or coins, with people adding their contributions over the years and this can create a symbolic focus for communities. Our project will record individual 'tree stories' digitally, building a website gallery. Using a selection of these, the artists will create new images in a different media, poems and an accompanying soundtrack with the help of volunteers.
Visit the Tree Stories project website HERE
The Tree Stories project culminated in an exhibition at the Sheffield Art House (24 October-6 November 2015). Below is a small selection of photographs of the event preview and opening. Attending were contributing artist Tansy Lee Moir and Sheffield writer and poet Sally Goldsmith (23 October 2015. Photos: Chris Percy/SYBRG)