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Mighty Oaks, Coiled Clay

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
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New art display reflects fabric of Memorial Arboretum
A new temporary exhibition has been unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire incorporating the very essence of the impressive 150-acre site. The exhibition, entitled Mighty Oaks, Coiled Clay, will be on display at the Arboretum, based at Alrewas, near Lichfield, until June 23. The clay soil of the National Memorial Arboretum, the UK's national site of remembrance, allows the almost 30,000 young trees planted there to thrive. The trees serve as living tributes to the tremendous acts of service and sacrifice that are recognised by the many memorials situated throughout the Arboretum site, which is part of the Royal British Legion.

Mighty Oaks Coiled Clay, National Memorial Arboretum
The Mighty Oaks Coiled Clay exhibition at the National Memorial Arboretum

Mighty Oaks, Coiled Clay features work by illustrator Mark Frith and ceramicist Charlotte Barker who, together, explore the two materials that are fundamental to the Arboretum site. Each of the mighty oak trees captured in the graphite illustrations by Mark is hundreds of years old, having grown from small saplings into imposing mature trees that inspire a sense of wonder with their majesty. The detailed portraits were created over a period of three and half years all across the country and offer a glimpse into the future of the young trees at the Arboretum, and how they will develop in the care of the site's arborists over future years. Charlotte's contemporary ceramic sculptures have been constructed using traditional processes, evoking a feeling of nostalgia fused with a sense of spontaneity. Capturing Staffordshire's fame for its clay and pottery industry, Charlotte's works are formed from coils and slabs of this versatile material and rest on low oak structures, bringing together materials that sit at the heart of the county and the Arboretum.

Mighty Oaks Coiled Clay, National Memorial Arboretum
The ceramic pots are framed by graphite illustrations of old oak trees

Chris Ansell, Exhibitions Officer at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: "This new thought-provoking exhibition explores materials with a special connection to the Arboretum, encouraging visitors to consider them in their natural and worked forms. We are delighted to be able to showcase these profound creations by two talented artists as we continue to develop our cultural offering through our temporary exhibition programme, assisting our efforts to engage new audiences."
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Why? New Exhibition Is The Essence Of Arboretum
When: Now until June 23
Phone: 01283 245100
Where: National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent DE13 7AR
Cost: Entrance to Landscapes of Life exhibition 7.50 adults, 6 children/concessions
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