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The large trunk of a fallen oak tree has been carefully moved into its new home – pride of place at the entrance to Grizedale Forest Visitor Centre.
The 11 tonne section of oak, which is from a tree that was blown over during the bad storms of 2005, has been reclaimed to form the heart of an art installation that will be seen by tens of thousands of visitors to the Forestry Commission’s Grizedale Forest each year.
The eight-metre long section of oak, which is hundreds of years old, and has large chunks of bedrock entwined within its root system, was delicately lifted by skilled experts using heavy machinery and placed through a narrow gateway and into position on Wednesday, March 16.
It will now form part of an art installation, called ‘The Wood for the Trees’, that will greet visitors as they walk from the main car park and Yan building to the Visitor Centre at Grizedale Forest.
Hayley Skipper, Forestry Commission Curator of Arts Development, said:
“This is a several hundred year old oak tree that was blown over during the big storms of 2005. It is a pretty spectacular and interesting piece of wood, which was specially chosen from a field to the south of the forest, near Bowkerstead Farm.
“When the art installation has been completed it will greet visitors coming though the entrance archway. There will also be a planting scheme in the paving inspired by native forest plants and a sound element based on the call of the hen harrier bird - a species which would occupy the same ecological niche as the sitka spruce tree were it not already growing there. This project will connect the visitor's to the centre with a new interpretation of the forest through the creation of this work.”
The oak tree will be placed on steel props to give it the appearance of hovering above the floor. Native forest plants will be planted at the base of the tree and bowl-shaped ceramic inserts will be put into the sawn-off surfaces of the tree.
The pieces, which have been created by composer Neil Luck with Katherine Clarke Lead Artist for the project, are based on the call of the hen harrier bird. These phrases of sound are created by musical instruments and fragments of recordings of the voices of Forestry Commission staff who work on the creation and management of the forest landscape. As the hen harrier occupies the same ecological niche as the sitka spruce trees in the forest, the phrases of sound will be played on a shuffle system organised by the DNA code of the sitka spruce.
This ambitious new work has been developed by muf architecture / art – a London-based, internationally renowned collaborative organisation of artists and architects. Bob Woodhouse from Woodhouse Plant Engineers led the team responsible for lifting the tree into position.
Lead Artist Katherine Clarke from muf architecture / art said:
"Watching the tree being lifted from the forest into position in the courtyard has been a fascinating experience. Part of the project is about involving the expertise of different individuals and organisations and watching Bob's team at work is like very elegant piece of choreography! There was only a couple centimetres clearance on the gatepost at the courtyard entrance and was a fabulous process to watch."
The Wood for the Trees is due to be completed by the summer this year.
Grizedale Forest was at the forefront in the development of art in the environment in the 1970's and the Forest is home to over 60 sculptures including works by Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Harris and David Kemp.
Grizedale has something for everyone with a wide range of walking trails, waymarked paths, forest roads, tracks and bridleways, plus superb views of Coniston Water, Windermere and the Grizedale Valley.
More information about Grizedale Forest can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/grizedalehome
Note to Editors
The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain with responsibility for over one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The North West England Forest District covers the Lake District in Cumbria, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The forests today are managed for conservation, wildlife, landscape and recreation as well as providing a valuable source of timber. www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland
Hayley Skipper on 01229 862015 and Sarah Bruce, the Forestry Commission’s marketing manager in Cumbria, on 01229 862011 or 07827 232832.