News

Spring 2001

onetree has reached a very significant stage in its development. The material from our large oak has now been utilized and an incredibly diverse range of products have been delivered. This is thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of the seventy-five selected artists, designers and makers who worked hard towards the end of 2000 to complete their task.

Finished items were delivered throughout December and January and then ferried to and from Robert Walker’s photographic studio in central Manchester. The images that he has captured will be a permanent record of the project and form the basis of the onetree book. Merrell Publishers have now received all material for the book, which will be released in August 2001 to coincide with the opening exhibition in Edinburgh.

onetree can now claim to have royal support. In late November we wrote to The Prince of Wales to ask if he would like to write a foreword to the book. We felt this was very appropriate considering his known interest in land management and the country’s natural heritage. The reply from St James’ Palace read: “His Royal Highness is fascinated by onetree and thinks it is a lovely idea. He would be more than happy to write a foreword for the book and, if possible, to visit the exhibition at some point on its tour in 2001/2.”

Prince Charles’ foreword will be complimented by an inspiring essay to close the book by Chris Baines, environmental writer, broadcaster and principal advisor to the successful Millennium project “Trees of Time and Place”. Chris has been a supporter of onetree for the past two years.

The book will also feature some poetry by Joan Poulson who has followed the project throughout. A more complete collection of her work on the subject will be published separately. This 96 page book will include colour illustrations and Japanese calligraphy. Joan says of her work for onetree:

“Meeting other artists involved, I built up an impression of something extraordinary coming together across the country. For my part, I have tried to document, in ways natural to me, a remarkable project and deeply satisfying experience.”

Joan’s work has also been compiled in a one-off handmade anthology to form part of the exhibition. This book, made by Helen Johnson, encompasses responses to the tree through words, calligraphy, papermaking and bookbinding.

The piece below, by furniture makers Wales & Wales, is an example of the recycling of onetree off-cuts.

Wales

Rod and Alison Wales found that the timber delivered to them was almost completely free from faults. As a result they had enough wood left over to make the piece shown here. Other makers have also chosen to use up their off-cuts rather than return them as waste.

It was mentioned earlier that all work is now complete but this is not strictly true. Max arrived at Robert’s studio in late January having been up until 3am to put on a final coat of polish. It looked complete and the photograph was taken of the amazingly complex exterior. Max then announced that he was taking it back to Staffordshire because he still had 200 hours work to do on the interior. In total he will have spent close to 1000 hours on the cabinet (six months work for most people). It is easy to understand why he was unable to meet the deadline. Other people have experienced major problems but we will have images of work by all the artists in time for the book publication.

All of the onetree collection has now been carefully stored in Wilmslow ready to be transported to Edinburgh in August. Some of the work has given us severe handling problems. The award for the heaviest item delivered goes to Malca Schotten although David Mach, Alison Crowther and Andrew Varah were close runners-up. In an earlier newsletter Malca wrote about her wonderful week of sketching in Tatton Park when the tree’s stump was still in the ground. As a result she has produced a full-sized, floor-mounted drawing of the stump with a heavy lead casing and a thick glass top. Along with the eight large wall-hung drawings that she has also done it had to come from Norwich on a removal van with piano lifting equipment. The cost was beyond Malca so she was very grateful to receive sponsorship, to cover transport, from Ben Cracknell Studios.

Storage and transport problems are not limited to size and weight. Some of the work is extremely delicate, other pieces need to be protected from variations in humidity. Smoked food products also need careful handling. The challenge of moving the exhibition across the country is now very much apparent.

In addition to solving the project’s logistical problems every possible effort must now be made to maximize the public impact of onetree. In this we would very much appreciate your assistance - please spread the word. If you need publicity material or can suggest people we should approach don’t hesitate to contact us.

A welcome addition to the project has been dendrologist Jonathan Legeard who has made a fascinating study of the growth rings of the tree. It was this we had in mind when we cut a cross-section from the base of the main trunk before it was milled into planks.

Oak trees in the British Isles grow generally in response to seasonal weather patterns. The combined records of oaks in one geographical area (calculated using average ring-widths) are known to be a good reflection of regional climatic conditions. Jonathan has illustrated this using our tree as an example and presented local weather records for comparison. The result is a history of the tree and the surrounding woodland. Management records for Tatton Park were lost in a fire in the 1960s so this is some of the best information we have on the history of the wood.

Funding is still needed to cover the many and varied costs related to the exhibition programme. A recent and most welcome contribution has been made by the North West England Conservancy branch of the Forestry Commission. As well as making a direct donation they will be collaborating with us in the production of a new leaflet, which will promote onetree as a demonstration of the value of native trees as a resource.