Treasure of the Trees

About This Project

Treasure of the Trees was inspired by a visit to Langthorne Park, Leytonstone where a surprising array of mature trees stand hidden just off the main road.
It was the setting for ‘Land Ahoy’, the finale of Grandad’s Island: Page to Pave – an highly ambitious community arts project run by Artillery as part of Walthm Forests Borough of Culture year – for which i’d been invited to be part of their Associate Artist team.

Instead of pirate maps and chests of golden bounty this treasure trail is about discovering the secrets and wisdom, science and folklore of trees in our neighbourhood.

This project is continuing to be developed with fellow creative, ceramicist and Forest School educator Kristina Riddington. Like a web of fungal mycelium we believe it has potential to spread, form connections and spawn some exciting fruits.

At each tree people could find a plaque with some factual information and either directions of something to do or think about in response. Hanging from the Robinia / Black Locust tree was information about ‘dendrochronology’ the science of dating tree rings and slides of slices of wood cut so thinly that light from a mobile phone could be shone through them making the intricate detail glow.

Other exploratory activities included percussion made from different types and sizes of pieces of wood, a space to read traditional stories about trees and a range of seeds to play with and disperse.

At each ‘treasure’ children collected a coloured ink stamp to decorate a tree on the reverse of the map. The finale was a wishing tree where people could leave their messages and add to the autumnal mandala.

Smartphone microscopes proved a massive hit for getting a new perspective on the wonder of seeds, leaves, textile weaves and alike.
community arts, environment, waltham forest