Last Tree Dreaming Project – supported by Heritage Lottery Fund
Oak trees are the bearers of dreams – lovers carve their names into them, swings are suspended from them, their branches reach out towards the sky. They outlive us, yet we can see in them many aspects of the human condition: growth, renewal, ageing and disease.”
This 250 year old, 11 tonne, 60 foot tall Oak tree fell just below Stourhead gardens in Turner’s Paddock in late January 2013. Discovering that it had featured in a painting by Turner when it was 30 years old, local artist Barry Cooper began to conceive of a heritage project involving young people, which would connect this tree with the once mighty Selwood Forest, recorded in 894 as covering the whole area from Stourhead to Frome and spanning the Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset borders. All that now remains of Selwood Forest is fragments and place names around Frome. Hence the project title Last Tree Dreaming….
In July 2014 a group of Frome Community College’s ‘Employability’ students began debarking the tree, and preparing to carve or ‘tattoo’ their designs of aspirational symbols into its heartwood. Henry Hoare, Frome Town Council, and Somerset Community Foundation funded this pilot project. In Autumn 2014 a core group of around 20 college students embarked on submitting a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Young Roots’ programme, with the support of Azeema Caffoor from Young People Frome, several local artists, and Steve Macarthur of Green Stand Consulting. In May 2015 Last Tree Dreaming Project was awarded £40,700 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to continue.
The students have been working with wood sculptor, Anthony Rogers, and eco-poet and Forest Schools leader, Helen Moore, as well as other people with specific skills in National Trust Stourhead, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Selwood Living Landscape Project, Tate Modern, Bath University, and Frome’s multi-talented community
The project has worked with over 600 young people and included learning in a wide range of subjects: ecology, local history, landscape gardening, civil and timber engineering, painting, drawing, sculpture, poetry and film-making. Young People have had a chance to explore the heritage of Selwood Forest and learn about the history of Stourhead. They have also had the opportunity to develop skills in woodcarving, bushcraft, curating an art exhibition, collecting oral histories, conservation and archiving and some have visited the Turner Collection in Tate Modern, London. In addition young people have taken part in a 15km Duke of Edinburgh’s walk through Selwood Forest. Between June 2016 and the end of August there will be a exhibition at Frome Museum about the History of the ancient Selwood Forest and The Last Tree Dreaming.
In August 2016 the Oak will be re-erected at Frome Community College to remind us of the history of our great
Last Tree Dreaming
Question Time 2013 Frome Town Council & Youth Mayor
Frome Youth Cafe @ Mendip YMCA Routes:
As featured on ITV Fixers:
Link to video here