Yesterday we went to see Pip Hall and pick up the first set of stones that now carry words. It’s hard to express just how exciting this is! It’s not just that Pip has been working with her chisel to get a lovely angle on the letters and they catch the light in a way that makes them come alive, and they look beautiful. It’s also the coming together of another element that brings us one step closer to the realisation of a plan that has been a long, long time in the making.

Sorting through the stones with Pip Hall

The build of the first treefold begins next week in Grizedale Forest. It is an immense privilege as well as a real joy to be siting a piece of work in this location. Grizedale was the UK’s first forest for sculpture and when treefold:centre is complete it will follow on from and stand among work by people whose creative use of the elements has long inspired us: David Nash, Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Harris, Sally Matthews, Sophie Riding, Walter Bailey and many others … the collection at Grizedale offers a wonderful legacy of art that fits its place and, over time, disappears.

Red deer stag in Grizedale, near the site of the treefold
Red deer stag in Grizedale, near the site of the treefold, watching us as the sun rose on Midsummer’s morning

All being well, this treefold will last at least 50 years, if not a hundred – enough time for the tree within it, along with those that will be planted around it as part of the forest’s replanting strategy, to grow into a mature tree. The tree, more than the fold around it, will be the thing of wonder, but we’re hoping that the stone surround will offer an incentive to pause and step, however briefly, into tree time.

Harriet holding Time in her hands

Who knows what impact the Tree Charter, which will be launched this year, will have had on the UK’s trees and woodlands by the time the aspen in Grizedale is in its prime?

Of course we’re keeping the future in mind but right now it’s time to get our tools together and get set for the week ahead. We’re looking forward to a bit of a gathering on July 22nd when we’re having an open drop-in event at the treefold, during construction, from 12 noon – 2pm. If you’d like to come, just turn up. Ask at the Grizedale Visitor Centre reception for details (and you can call ahead on 0300 067 4495 or visit the Grizedale Forest Website).

Meanwhile we have selected the next set of stones for Pip to carve – these will go into treefold:east on Little Asby Common. It’s an interesting business choosing stones to be written on. Here are some of the thoughts I had at Bowscar Quarry yesterday, while Rob and I were reaching into bags to find prime pieces of limestone:

We are sorting through stones seeing them as words. Looking for the perfect ‘in’. Deciding which hard face will be best for ‘wood’. The hard element of rock is passing through our hands and our minds, where we like it with the open space of a fell side and the sound of stone planned on stone in the steady build of a wall.

Collecting more stones to be carved from the quarry

In my mind’s eye, each stone word is sent through years of rain and wind, edges smoothed, weathered, while within its reach a tree grows, slowly, surely … and from time to time a person or group of people may pass and rest awhile … this at least is my imagined future for these stones and words and wood and earth, elements blended, and the spaces in between them filled and filling with thoughts and possibilities, and wind. I am picturing the view. There is a lark flying high above, singing to the sky. 

NOTE: We will share the strand of the poem that will be built into treefold:centre once the build is complete.

Bow Scar quarry



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