Tree stories

August 29, 2014 | Comments: 3 | Categories:


Tree graffiti – we’ve all seen it, some of us have made it and many of us, myself included, have wondered about the stories behind it.  So I’m excited to be beginning work on a new Arts Council England funded project for SYBRG managed by HEC Associates in Sheffield called ‘Tree stories’, which will be looking at the whole subject of tree graffiti from a new angle.

Plans for the project include an app to enable people to upload pictures of carvings they find, community workshops, new artworks, stories, poems, music, an exhibition and a book.  The aim is to shed some light on this often misunderstood practice and use historic examples to inspire new imaginative works.  The project will run from October 2014 till December 2015 and focus mainly, though not exclusively, on the Sheffield and North Derbyshire area.  I’m looking forward to working again in what I might call my ancestral home, being a Derbyshire girl myself!


Of course we won’t be encouraging people to carve into any fresh bark, but it will be interesting to explore people’s perspectives on it – is it vandalism or folk art? What effect does it have on the tree itself? Are people angry or intrigued when they find it?  I wonder what stories the trees will tell us?

There are more photos and examples of drawings inspired by tree carving in an earlier blog post 'The writing on the tree'.  

There will be lots more stories to come once the project gets up and running, in the mean time here's one I didn't make earlier...




Steve Smart: on August 31, 2014

Interesting project - a little concerned that it might seem to be condoning carving into living trees. I know that's not at all where you're coming from, but it does need emphasising. (Imagine these were marks made on other kinds of living creatures ...)

Sean Freeman: on September 01, 2014

Great project, wish you all success. I would not worry too much about the possibility that some may construe this work as being tacit approval of carving into tree bark. As clearly stated it is not, and in my opinion significant damage from carving names/messages etc... is very very rare; trees replace their bark, bark cambium and cambium every growing season unless the carving ring barks the tree this damage is highly unlikely to represent a threat to the health or stability of the tree.
I heard/read some years back of trees in a wood in the south of England that had been carved by American soldiers prior to the D-Day landings have not been able to track down any other info on this but it would be a wonderful thing if some of those marks remained and could be found and could be recorded. I know it's not in the areas of focus in this project.

Sean Freeman: on September 01, 2014

Here's a story about one such US GI;

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