Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Exhibitions about Woods and Trees: art, illustrations and photography

Is this the year of the tree? 
Did a lot of people get together to create a lot of art exhibitions about trees? 
Or is it just a coincidence?

From the series Sonamu (pine tree) by Bae Bien-U

Apparently - according to the Art Fund, there has been a recent event of note worth commemorating
In 1217, Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest, opening up the royal forests for the use of the people. To mark the 800th anniversary of this act, in November 2017 The Woodland Trust launches a new charter to recognise and protect those rights.
This is a link to the National Library and The Charter of the Forest

Below is a listing of the art, photography and illustration exhibitions about trees which I know about.

The Arborealists: The Art of Trees 2017 

The Arborealists: The Art of Trees 2017 has just finished at Bermondsey Project Space, London, until 13 January - but will be moving to the John Davis Gallery in Moreton–in-Marsh, Gloucestershire in June 2018
The appearance of the Arborealists in 2013 is an extraordinary phenomenon within the pervading orthodoxy in an art world that values post modernist objects, film and popular culture. Where events, interventions and installations engage the viewer, what can ‘tree painters’ (the Arborealists are for the most part painters), offer a public that is understandably titillated by Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
The associated book is still available - and indeed I bought The Arborealists: The Art of the Tree before I realised there was an exhibition!

Trees in Illustration 

Trees in Illustration is at the V&A until next week and finishes on Tuesday 23 January 2018.
This display shows a variety of illustrations celebrating trees, woods and landscapes. Featuring watercolours by Beatrix Potter and Arthur Rackham, alongside drawings by E. H. Shepard for A. A. Milne's Pooh stories and his verses in Now We Are Six. Also included are Eric Ravilious' charming wood engravings for an edition of Gilbert White's classic The Natural History of Selborne. Exhibited here for the first time are Rolf Brandt's witty pictures for Stephen McFarlane's Story of a Tree. 
The second exhibition at the V&A - Into the Woods: Trees in Photography - is currently on display until 22 April 2018.

I saw it last Friday and it has some  simply stunning images - see above for just one example.
Trees have long been a source of inspiration for artists. This display explores the diverse representation of trees in photography – as botanical subjects and poetic symbols, in the context of the natural and human worlds.
This is not part of the exhibition but is a short video on YouTube by Bae Bien-U the Korean photographer who produced the stunning image at the top of this post.  He has apparently been acclaimed for his treescapes - particularly ones of Korean Pines - for the last two decades.

I'll write more about the exhibition and the other marvellous images later in the week.

A Walk in the Woods: A Celebration of Trees in British Art 

Web page for A Walk in the Woods at Higgins Bedford

A Walk in the Woods: A Celebration of Trees in British Art is on at The Higgins Bedford - in Bedford - until 25 February 2018 (just over half an hour on the train from Central London - I've been checking train timetables!).

A trip to Bedford will also be rewarded with another exhibition of Edward Bawden and his Studio if you go before 28th January.
The Higgins Bedford pays homage to the tree with a new exhibition celebrating the role of trees and woodland in British landscape painting. Drawn from the world-famous Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection, some forty watercolours, drawings and prints from the past two centuries will be on show and will include works by John Constable, John Sell Cotman, Edward Lear, Samuel Palmer, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and Lucian Freud. The show will highlight the importance and enduring popularity of trees in art, and explore various themes which have evolved in artists’ depictions of nature: magical and dreaming trees, trees in the countryside, the pleasures of woods and the lure of the exotic.
There's also a A Walk in the Woods Study Day on Saturday 20th January 10.30am – 2.30pm (
£20 Including lunch and tea or coffee on arrival - Booking essential)

This study day brings together speakers to explore further the subject of trees in British art. The day will start at 10.30 with refreshments and registration followed by talks by
  • Christiana Payne, Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University, author of ‘Silent Witnesses: Trees in British Art 1760-1870’ and co-curator of A Walk in the Woods; 
  • Fiona Stafford, Professor of English Language and Literature University of Oxford, presenter of The Meaning of Trees on BBC Radio 3, and author of the acclaimed ‘The Long Long Life of Trees’, a tribute to the diversity of trees. 
  • David Boyd Haycock, freelance writer, lecturer and curator specialising in British cultural history of the twentieth century. Author of ‘Paul Nash’ and ‘A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War’, David is currently writing a book called ‘A Grand Epoch: Young British Artists and the End of the Century’ for Tate Publishing. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

and funnily enough we've got "Beneath the Canopy" coming to Artichoke Gallery in Ticehurst at the end of March!

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