The Long View
meetings with seven remarkably ordinary trees
"this elegant and open-ended project takes as its starting point a deceptively simple concept: seven lone trees in disparate locations, standing initially for nothing very much and nowhere in particular, but eventually interconnecting with everywhere and everything ... a skillfully self-curated journey through poetry research, community engagement, printmaking, storying, expeditions, place-philosophy, imagery, meditation and environmental concerns."
The Long View combines exploration and art to celebrate the value and beauty of trees, and the importance of the natural environment and our connection with it. We have spent two years with seven remarkably ordinary trees in Cumbria, walking, camping, leading public walks, working with schools, and strolling wtih ecologists. These trees - a hawthorn, a rowan, an alder, a Scots pine, a sycamore, a birch and an oak - have become beacons in a wide and varied landscape: they are ordinary trees representing trees across the UK.
The Long View exhibition toured the UK in 2018
“I am blown away. I made the journey from Cornwall. Completely worth it!”
“Amazing words and pictures and trees. Beautiful, Thank you!”
“Incredibly beautiful, insightful and emotional. Moved to tears.”
The Long View video - ideas, insights, wet feet, the environment, walks, weather and trees: the process behind our work and footage from our walks. A film made by our good friend Matt Sharman
For two years, we slowed down and came to know the individual trees as well as the land around them ever more closely, discovering how they fit within a landscape that’s considered to be fairly wild yet is closely managed by farmers and environmental organisations. Our photography, writing, videos and outdoor installations (the temoprary addition of colour to each of the seven locations) reveal our response to the trees and our journeys to them, including our 118km link walk over midsummer, The Light Walk, and our contrasting Dark Walks in midwinter.
All the trees are on publicly accessible land, and we had a wonderful time walking to the trees with others - more than 350 people in total! We're also beginning to hear from people who have walked to all seven trees, or are setting out on a journey to do so.
Find out more about The Long View, our discoveries along the way, poetry, other people's tree stories, and the installation of a very exciting legacy - treefolds - on the website: www.thelongview.today.
Trees are social plants that much prefer being close to one another. But in challenging environments they can thrive in isolation, and against a wide sky or harsh rock face their beauty is amplified many times. The individual ‘Long View’ trees are not remarkable for their antiquity or their size. What has drawn us to them is the way they ‘fit’ in their environments. In landscapes where seeds have a tough job to get established, or saplings face the threat of wind, nibbling or disease, these seven trees have somehow made it to become firmly established, and they hold their space spectacularly. They are just getting on with the business of surviving, but to us they seem like sentinels – proud specimens of their individual species, and icons standing up for the beauty and value of trees in general.
The Long View has at its heart a series of repeated journeys to the trees, and slow time spent with them, tapping into the rhythms of the landscape, weather and seasons. It’s a real privilege to have organisations who really do know their stuff as our project partners. We are working closely with them as we gather information and in the coordination of guided walks, online conversations and public events.
- The Lake District National Park Authority will be linking The Long View in with their campaign for World Heritage Site Status and helping us delve into stories of culture, geology and history as we go;
- Friends of the Lake District will be sharing tree knowledge with us and exploring the fine details of the land’s natural and human history;
- The National Trust will be opening their arboreal survey archives for us, sharing stories about the local region and a wealth of tree knowledge.
- The Woodland Trust will be lending us advice and insights as we develop our school packs and gather people’s views about why trees matter to them.
- Forestry Commission England are going to be hard at work bringing on new saplings from the seven trees’ seeds, and we’ll be launching the exhibition at the galleries at Grizedale Forest Visitor Centre, in summer/autumn 2017.
- HighWire at Lancaster University are devoting technological expertise to develop sensory systems to collect data from the trees, and together we’ll be devising surprising ways to share this.
- The Field Studies Centre in Blencathra are the hub for the city insitutions that are twinned with the trees – allowing us to bring the cities to the trees, and take the trees (metaphorically) to the cities.
A project of this size can’t come about without other people, and we are really pleased to have support from other organisations, land owners, farmers and creative thinkers – there’s more detail on this and other aspects of the project on The Long View website.
For the quote above, thanks to Dave Pritchard whose article on The Long View appeared in Corridor8, February 2018.
In their stillness the trees are a pause. On ridges they stand, guardians of the landscape they survey. In tree time, the months of winter slumber are simply part of a rhythm. They call me to be still.