Sunday 29 January 2012

Planting Trees

When I was at school there was a scheme called Plant A Tree in ‘ 73, from what I can gather it was started to help combat the ravages caused by the spread of Dutch Elm Disease in Britain. Through my school I bought a Silver Birch but I can’t remember if I had an actual tree to plant, or just paid money to have the tree planted in a new wood. I do remember feeling that there was something special about planting trees. The campaign was the genesis of The Tree Council. There were a wide variety of stamps and First Day Covers

Here are some comments from the House of Commons about Plant a Tree in 73 with some interesting facts and figures.

I have also just discovered that the Silver Birch has a relatively short life span so I’m not sure if my tree survived but there is a beauty in the graveyard behind my parents’ house that gives great pleasure to the viewer in all seasons, in fact they have a lovely assortment of mature trees just over the fence. Through the Woodland Trust I had three oak trees planted in a wood near Daventry in memory of a former partner, a man who loved life and lost it too soon. I’m sure he would have liked the notion of living on as a strong oak with a whole forest for company.

Now, with a reasonable sized garden, I’m happy to say that I have followed the advice given to characters in the story “Big Man” by Kathy Page and have planted fruit trees, although I haven’t danced round them. I have two apple trees, two plum trees, a fig tree and a cherry tree, one day I’d love a small orchard but my small collection of fruit trees will have to do for now!

To celebrate the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth ll's 2012 Diamond Jubilee, the Woodland Trust is helping millions of people across the UK to come together to plant 6 million trees. I love the idea of planting trees and as a member of Beanfield Artists I made an application for a community tree planting pack. Just before Christmas I discovered that I had been awarded a pack of 105 All Year Colour trees to plant but the Woodland Trust needed to know where they were going to be planted.

The news came on the day I was talking to Rosalind Stoddart, who was planning to plant trees along the new boundary line of her new field situated behind her house. Ros has generously donated an area in her new field as the site to plant the trees and I'm overjoyed to know that these trees have found a home where they will be enjoyed by the community.

Ros is passionate about the arts, trees and the environment, if you are an artist or creative practitioner coming to help with the planting, Ros is keen to hear your ideas for events / activities that could take place on the field in the months to come. 

There seems to be a deep connection between people and trees, BBC Radio Northampton was quick to pick up the story and during the early part of a frost sprinkled morning their roving reporter came to talk to us about the Jubilee Woods tree planting day which will take place on February 18th. Since then we have been delighted with the response to our request for volunteer tree planters willing to come and create this new Jubilee Wood.

You can find out more about Rosalind Stoddart FRSA Independent Cultural Engineer and the exciting projects she is currently undertaking here and I know she has many exciting plans, events and workshops in the pipeline!

Shortly after the broadcast I received a call from the wonderful Ann Leonard asking if we had given any thought to protecting the trees from the wildlife! I told her we had thought about it but had no funds for the project. She said in a mysterious tone 'let me think about it and get back to you." The next day she rang again to say that she would donate part of the costs and her colleagues at AES Europe a local company, based in Corby, but with very strong business links to Brigstock, would match her donation. 

The company has a commitment to encouraging lake and pond owners and managers to establish native plant species both in the water and on the surrounding margins.  They grow their own plants from carefully collected UK seed at a private nursery in Brigstock.  Both Ann and AES Europe are very happy to support the Jubilee Tree Planting event and the Woodland Trust in this venture and are supplying the supports and protective mesh for the young trees. You can find out more about AES Europe here. I must give a huge hug of thanks to Ros and AES Europe Proprietor - Mr Robert Cockroft, Operations Manager - Mr Anthony McKenna and Nursery Manager - Ms Ann Leonard for helping to create this new area of woodland!

It’s not too late to apply for Jubilee Woods Tree Planting Packs so follow the link to find out how.
and here is some information about National Tree Week

Friday 27 January 2012

Dazzled by Camoufleurs

My January project with the Year 4 students at Priory Lower School in Bedford has been camouflage. As there are nautical links on my Mum's side of the family and because many artists were employed as Camoufleurs by the Navy during World War l, I thought it would be interesting to explore the evolution of Dazzle Ships

and artists like Norman Wilkinson CBE “who was placed in charge of a naval camouflage unit, housed in basement studios at the Royal Academy of Arts. There, he and about two dozen associate artists and art students (camoufleurs, model makers, and construction plan preparators) devised dazzle camouflage schemes, applied them to miniature models, tested the models (using experienced sea observers), 

and prepared construction diagrams that were used by other artists at the docks (one of whom was Vorticist artist Edward Wadsworth) in painting the actual ships. In early 1918 Wilkinson was assigned to Washington, D.C. for a month, where he served as a consultant to the U.S. Navy, in connection with its establishment of a comparable unit (headed by Harold Van BuskirkEverett Warner, and Loyd A. Jones)(Hartcup 1980; Behrens 2002, 2009; Wilkinson 1969).” 

I found lots of interesting photos and information in this Blog by an animator called Dii We looked at prints by Edward Wadsworth and tried to pick out the camouflaged elements in his work. After a good discussion about camouflage in nature and as used by the military the children made drawings and collages in preparation for the activity I have planned for the following week.

I had been particularly inspired by these models in the

This had given me the germ of an idea so I enlisted my Dad’s help (yet again!) saying 
“Dad, do you think you could make me 30 simple boat models out of scrap wood?”

Dad “When do you want them by?”

Me “Next week, Friday, please…they only need to be very simple…..”

By the second Friday all the boats had been made and the children made a wonderful job of transferring their 2D designs onto their 3D models. When I work with them again  later in the term  I think we will make screen prints or collographs based on their drawings. Having worked with the children in this class in previous years they have always displayed a strong design sense.