Monday, 24 June 2013

Ghost Trees of Warwickshire

Ever heard of ghost trees? Well here's a quickie post to let you know of a fascinating project about some of the ghost trees of Warwickshire. My place in the scheme was minor to say the least, but brought me into contact with artists Michele Carruthers and Richard Cresswell, who were particularly interested in three ghost trees that reside in a field at Compton Verney for their Ghost Tree project.

I immediately saw the benefits the project could bring to many, but a small stumbling block was that the trees in question were in a field that didn't belong to Compton Verney House Trust. Fortunately, neighbouring farmers were very helpful and agreed to the project going ahead on the land they managed - a project that would yet again bring focus to one of Warwickshires finest 'Capability' Brown landscapes; Compton Verney. Today therefore saw Michele and Richard visit the field with the necessary equipment to safely place three pennants; one in each of three dead trees on a sunny south east facing slope.

The project is funded by the Arts Council England and the National Lottery, and is rolling out across the area in time for the popular Warwickshire Open Studios weeks which begin on 29th June. I won't go into too much detail as a good website exists to provide some useful information, but in short the art installation involves the positioning of brightly coloured 'pennants' within branch networks of standing and fallen dead-wood trees, or ghost trees in this instance.


The project is a great way of highlighting these amazing trees, which far from being dead trees awaiting felling, are in fact important dead-wood habitats that are being preserved for fungi, invertebrates, nesting birds and bats. The success of this project I feel, is that attention is drawn to these important trees, yet the nature of the trees isn't compromised. The factors that surround a dead tree - weakness of trunk, its use by flying animals etc are mitigated by the relatively small scale of the pennants, which are instead brightly coloured, and best viewed from afar.

The 'decorated' trees at Compton Verney can be seen by visitors to the gallery, as you pass over the elegant sphinx bridge, and also from public footpaths and bridleways that pass through the estate, but please keep in mind that the area around the trees is in fact private property, and grazed by sheep and cattle.

For more information visit the main links within this post, and please do look out for the pennants both at Compton Verney or elsewhere in Warwickshire.

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