I'm a working mum writing about life in Edinburgh (and anywhere else we go) with two curious, adventurous, and imaginative children. Visit my blog at www.linzertortes.blogspot.co.uk. Follow me on Twitter: @LinzerLaw
The life of a tree
"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow"
From William Shakespeare to Sir Walter Scott, the oak has captured the imagination of writers for centuries. It is the most iconic tree of England, and is a byword for strength and tradition.
A fine art print of the OneOak tree. Source: OneOak project
The subject of the OneOak exhibition is a 222 year-old oak that grew on the Blenheim Palace estate in Oxfordshire. It was donated by His Grace the Duke of Marlborough to the OneOak project. Initially, it was believed that the oak had been planted in Victorian times, in the 1850s, but when it had been cut down dendrochronologists realised it was even older. The exhibition has a OneOak timeline with lots of facts and figures about the tree, from its height (23.9m) to its carbon content (3.93 tonnes).
A sculpture made from the OneOak tree. Source: OneOak project
OneOak is an education project of the Sylva Foundation. The Sylva Foundation works to revive Britain's wood culture and aims to increase understanding of sustainable woodland management by working directly with school children and the public, via their website, at a series of national exhibitions and through local and national media.
In particular, they want to spread the message of the importance of sustainable forest management, and they came up with the idea that the best way to do this was to create an exhibition that followed the story of a single oak tree. The story includes its felling, watched by 250 school-children, through its journey to a local sawmill, Deep in Wood, and finally to all of the artisans and wood users who work with oak timber.
Oak chair looking out over the Botanic Garden. Source: OneOak project
The exhibition seeks to remind us how far away our modern lives have moved us from a direct interaction with nature. It not only tells the story of the Blenheim Oak but also displays many of the articles that have been created with its wood. Some of the objects are functional, and some are decorative, but they share one trait: they are all beautiful.
The end of the story of OneOak is a tale of regeneration and renewal. The children who watched the oak being felled in the grounds of Blenheim Palace in 2009 planted 50 seedlings from acorns found across the Blenheim Estate. The seedlings were nurtured in a local nursery throughout 2010 and then the children came back to replant them in the grounds of the estate, exactly 2 years after the tree had been felled.
This is an excellent exhibition with lots of interesting objects to see, and plenty of information to absorb. This is the last exhibition for the OneOak project, so do go to see the final curtain call of this magnificent old tree.