Among the Trees – Where we like to be!

Well what a year 2020 is turning out to be!

After the Spring lockdown and then being forced to move our fortnightly meetings to evening picnics in Chalkwell Park, we decided to get adventurous!

A trip to a gallery in London!!!

I led the way here by taking a reconnaissance visit to Whitechapel Art Gallery in July, risking public transport and spending several hours masked up! And so I was able to say, it was great. The train was quiet and I had walked from Fenchurch St to the gallery, which was very Covid-safe and empty. This is the best time to see art – there are no crowds!

We decided that Among the Trees at the Hayward Gallery would be a very interesting and varied exhibition with something for everyone.

After booking our time slot with the gallery, our travel plans were expertly co-ordinated by Juliet, who arranged which train and bus we would take. If the weather was fine, we planned to take a stroll along the South Bank.

Of course this is England in August and on the day of our trip, it was throwing it down, umbrellas and anoraks at the ready!

We safely negotiated the very empty C2C train to Fenchurch St, caught a bus from Tower Hill to Aldwych and walked over Waterloo bridge towards the South Bank Centre. This was also very quiet and we grabbed a lovely lunch at a restaurant with outside seating under large umbrellas.

So to the exhibition…Prepare to enter a forest of Art!

SEVEN, all masked up and ready to go!

I’ve had a thing about trees for years and so it was fantastic that a whole exhibition should be devoted to artists’ interactions and responses to trees.

Among the Trees gathers together works by more than 30 artists who reconfigure traditional genres and develop new ways of representing trees in order to shift our conventional perceptions and understanding.

A varied display of installation, video, photography, painting and sculpture had us marvelling one moment then questioning and wondering how this was made! Sometimes a piece of art was even quite distressing (I’m thinking of Robert Smithson’s upside down trees here!)

Here’s a small selection of work that we loved!

Eve Jospin: Forest, 2013
Johanna Calle: Perimetros (Nogal Andino), 2012
Kim getting up close to Ugo Rondinone: Wind Moon, 2011
Giuseppe Penone: Albero Porta – Cedro, 2021

Humanity is finally waking up to the importance of trees, that they might be sentient beings, which can feel and communicate with one another, that they are of vital importance to our existence on this planet and that they exist on a much slower time than we do!  So next time you go for a walk in the woods, breathe in that air and marvel at these giants and how amazing they are!

Further reading

For those who want to learn more about trees here’s my recommendations:

  • Among the Trees Exhibition catalogue – Hayward Gallery Publishing
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
  • Shinrin-Yoku: the Art and Science of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li
  • Wildwood, a journey through trees by Roger Deakin

Here is a list of the participating artists:

Robert Adams, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Yto Barrada, Johanna Calle, Gillian Carnegie, Tacita Dean, Peter Doig, Jimmie Durham, Kirsten Everberg, Simryn Gill, Rodney Graham, Shi Guowei, Hugh Hayden, Eva Jospin, Kazuo Kadonaga, William Kentridge, Toba Khedoori, Luisa Lambri, Myoung Ho Lee, Zoe Leonard, Robert Longo, Sally Mann, Steve McQueen, Jean-Luc Mylayne, Mariele Neudecker, Virginia Overton, Roxy Paine, Giuseppe Penone, Abel Rodríguez, Ugo Rondinone, George Shaw, Robert Smithson, Jennifer Steinkamp, Thomas Struth, Rachel Sussman, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Jeff Wall.

Journaling fun – back to our roots!

The Water Replies

SEVEN are really excited to be involved in Metal’s public participation project for this year’s Estuary Festival 2020. It’s right up our street, a journaling project!

Metal and Cement Fields are asking members of the public living and working on the Thames Estuary in South Essex and North Kent, to create a journal responding to ‘The Water Replies’ and providing free workshops in journaling and poetry writing.

We attended the first journaling workshop led by artist Heidi Wigmore, our mentor and champion and we’re delighted that we got a special mention on the night!

Chalkwell Hall was buzzing with activity, groups of people gathered around tables ready to create!

Loved the first prompt, the opening page of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness ready for us to alter. There are no rules here, we were given these ideas and asked to think about the flow of the water:

  • Highlight words, circle words, cross out text
  • Make a new thread or sentence
  • Stream of consciousness, see what words pop out at you!
  • Cover the rest of the page with paint, collage, marker pens whatever you like

Here’s my page added to the journal, and we’re off!

Amanda’s first page exploring Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

We were each then given a small section of map that included sections of the Thames to stick into a page of the journal – look at the lines and marks on the map:

  • Add to them
  • Extend the lines
  • Extend lines of the river across other pages or the whole journal
Amanda’s page – extending lines on a map

All in all a great start to this project. We will fill our journals and return them to Metal for display in a library/reading room.  It will be exciting to see everyone’s responses in September!