in this circle of land's bones
moments gather into wood
seeds, ideas, earth, light,
the slow graft of time
roots deep, years weathered
taking the long view
In Spring 2017 we were delighted to be commissioned to carry out one of eight Charter Art residencies being curated by Common Ground to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the original Forest Charter and the creation of the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People. This is a nationwide arts initiative that involves brilliant artists and is full of creativity, participation, conversations and debates, and will provide legacies in many different parts of the country.
The concept of a treefold continues the process that has been at the heart of The Long View: inviting people to pause with a tree. It recognizes and celebrates the value of being with trees, and the place of trees within a biodiverse landscape that is also rich in human cultures of stone wall building, stockmanship and woodland management.
At first, each of the trees will be small – but over the years they will grow and the landscape around each treefold will change as well. We can imagine ourselves and others returning year after year to watch these changes, and to contemplate what’s happening in the wider environment, locally and globally.
The three treefolds embody something that’s fundamental to Cumbria and, let’s face it, many other places: the relationship between people and trees, the bringing together of art and tradition, and the twin realities of constancy and change. Each treefold is built with stone found locally and is built with techniques that go back hundreds, if not thousands of years (no cement – just stones, air, and hard work). Around the centre of each treefold a line of poetry has been carved into stone. Each line stands alone but, when joined together, forms the complete poem that Harriet has written for the purpose.
During the winter of 2017-2108 a young tree will be planted within each of the treefolds. It will grow, and each season it will change, and over the decades it will become stronger and taller eventually, perhaps, towering above other trees that are there because of its own seeds: after all, a woodland can start from just one tree.
treefold:east - Little Asby Common
treefold:centre - Grizedale Forest
treefold:north - Glencoyne Park
We have been able to make the treefolds a reality only through team work. Master stone waller, Andrew Mason, has crafted the treefolds, carver Pip Hall has chiselled the words into stones, and we've been supported by Common Ground, the Forestry Commission, the curatorial team at Grizedale Forest, the National Trust, Friends of the Lake District and the Woodland Trust. For more information on what we've been up to, and the story behind the inspiration for the treefolds, follow this link to The Long View website.
What is a treefold?
A new word, a thing of curiosity
A thing of beauty, a place to sit
The work of hand over hand
A commitment, protector for a tree
A solid end point from the small beginnings of an idea
A place for poetry
A wrap-around for the play of time in wood and leaf and seasons
A invitation to pause
A holder of thoughts, a trigger for thoughts
The holder of a diagram, a pivot, a point in time, where the future of the planet’s species may continue to look bleak, or could take a turn for the better
A reminder that it is up to us, humans, what happens next, and the importance of taking the long view
(Words written on the final day of the build of treefold:north)