One Tree

Showing the unique value of our woodlands. 70 artists, designers, makers and one large oaks.

27 November 1998 a single large oak was felled in the National Trust estate of Tatton Park in Cheshire, England. The onetree project aims to show the unique value of our woodlands by showing the volume and quality of work that can be made from this one tree.

The tree selected was about 170 years old, with a trunk of almost one metre diameter. It was a typical commercially valuable oak providing a good amount of usable timber. This particular tree was nearing the end of its natural life as it was suffering from die-back, a disease that has affected many oaks throughout Britain in recent years. It was also a particularly good choice as it could be felled safely without damaging other trees and left a clearing with good sunlight for planting new saplings.

All parts of the tree were saved and distributed to artists, craftspeople and outdoor furniture manufacturers to make a huge range of beautiful and useful pieces. All of this work has been brought together to form a major exhibition, which is travelling to five venues across Britain from August 2001 to September 2002.

The project is documented in the book, onetree by Garry Olson and Peter Toaig, published by Merrell. Stunning photography by Robert Walker covers the story of the tree from the felling through to the work produced by all the artists and makers. The book has 192 pages and 180 colour illustrations. It costs £19.95 in the UK, $29.95 in the US. ISBN 1 85894 133 4.

The oak tree has a national significance and symbolises our natural heritage. Oak as a material is seen as the most noble of hardwoods. The unique value of this project lies in the completeness of the story, from the planting of an acorn to the finished work exhibited. Native timber will be shown to be a uniquely versatile, beautiful and renewable resource.

The project is co-ordinated by two furniture makers who were driven by conversations with visitors to their workshops. The powerful simplicity of the idea enabled them to involve some of the best designers, artists and makers in Britain. The list of makers involved includes furniture makers Andrew Varah, Richard La Trobe Bateman and Alan Peters, designers Robin Day and Jane Dillon and artists David Mach and Lois Walpole. The diversity of work is huge, including basketmaking, ceramics, papermaking and leatherwork.

The quality of the photography by Robert Walker and the award-winning graphic design by the chase maximise the impact of the simple concept. We hope to carry this quality of creative input and presentation through the whole project.