For a short period of time in 2016, each of the seven trees was given the subtle addition of one of the colours from the rainbow spectrum.
The first transformation: Yellow
The first tree to be transformed was the Wasdale Oak. From May 10th 2016, for just one week, a 110-metre-long yellow line printed with poetry ran from the base of oak tree down the steep slope and into Wastwater. The impact of the yellow line was significant: both in the way that it highlighted the location of the Wasdale Oak, and in the debate it triggered. The discussion had two main strands: the first was around the sensitivity of the environment and the way we as humans impact on it, and have choices about this; the second was about the value of art to provoke discussion.
The debate was polarised. Some people were furious that their favourite view was altered; others thought the line was beautiful and were extremely happy that it triggered a debate about the environment. You can read more about the line, and its impact, and see pictures of it in place, on the blog post ‘Everything is Connected‘ and catch up on our thoughts on the installation as we prepared in our blog post here.
The Second Transformation: Orange
In the month when the landscape turns shades of gold, we have added an installation of orange in the woods of Glencoyne Park, in the form of cloth wraps in 7 trees that reveal the words of a haiku (short poem). The last word sits on the Glencoyne Pine, which rises high above the lake. The poetry celebrates the diversity of the woodland here, and the sensual experience of slow walking and exploration through these woods. We’ve written more about it in these two blogs: Orange, a Haiku in the Trees, and Rising: poetry in place.
The Third Transformation : Green
Green is not the usual colour of a hawthorn in winter but for one dazzlingly bright day the Little Asby Hawthorn had a flush of winter leaves. Each leaf carried message of dedication to a loved one or a memory or an expression of love to a person or place, or a sentiment about trees. Leaves were filled in by almost three hundred people. Hanging the leaves one by one and reading the messages as we went was a very moving experience, and the sun blazed for the last half hour of light banishing the desultory grey of winter. There’s more about this transformation in the blog From the Heart: the third installation, and we’ve written about the removal of the leaves here: When the time is right.
The Fourth Transformation : Red
On the first of January the sun shone and we headed out to the Kentmere Rowan carrying our simple kit for the installation: a jar full of Hardwick Show Red, some ground nut oil, and a poem laser cut into cloth. This installation brings together the tradition of herdwick sheep breeding, the tree, and the remarkable split rocks around it and has left a red poem on the rocks that will slowly disappear over the coming year.
The fifth installation: Indigo
Indigo is the colour linked with vision, so for the installation at the Under Helm Sycamore we have considered the line of sight from this tree, and our own points of view. Early in March we walked in a long arc, following a contour of 176m (the altitude of the sycamore) and chose seven locations that held the tree within their line of sight. At each, we placed a rock taken from beneath the tree and wrapped in a line of poetry. A long walk and the creation of invisible lines all pointing towards the single, often overlooked tree. There’s more about that here.
Why are we adding colour to the trees?
We are doing the colour interventions at the trees as a visual spectacle – some will be bold, some will be subtle – and as an invitation to pause, look, and consider the trees and the landscape they are in. The temporary transformations may also provoke thought. How you interpret it or react it to it will be entirely personal. Our own thinking is affected by our personal experiences in each landscape, and is partly influenced by the symbolism of the Indian Chakra system; this attributes a different colour to each of the seven chakras, or energy points in the body. These are linked with elements of growth and wellbeing, emotions, and the way we connect with and understand ourselves and the world around us.
The colour order of the installations does not follow the order of the chakras (we started with yellow, rather than red). From the start of the project we spent time with the trees to decide which tree would be associated with which colour, and it turns out that the colours don’t follow a geographical order. What we have, in the order of the trees, and in the order of the installations, is a fragmented rainbow, something that, like the environment, is both beautiful and fragile.
The Installations – On the Blog:
Red at the Rowan
Trout Beck Alder:
The Space of Imagining