Building a Legacy

Seeds as ideas …

It often happens that when you dream about something, refine your idea and begin to share it, it becomes a reality. So it has been with the legacy we imagined for The Long View. After much planning and collaboration, a couple of weeks ago we celebrated the completion of the first of three treefolds in Cumbria. They are a celebration of trees across the UK and markers of the UK’s new Charter for Trees, Woods and People; and the first treefold, sited in Grizedale Forest, continues a legacy of land art which has its roots in the 1970s. We have also been turning our attention to farming in the Yorkshire Dales, gathering images and stories for a forthcoming collection that will be stored in the Dales Countryside Museum for future generations. We thought we’d share a little about these two aspects of our work – and let you know how you can join us if you’d like to. And, as ever, there’s a poem to finish.

harriet and rob

Grizedale Forest

We were delighted to be commissioned this year as one of eight artists in the UK to be offered a Charter Art Residency by Common Ground. These 8 residencies have been created to coincide with the launch of the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People. Our concept for the treefolds is to draw on traditional dry stone walling techniques to create a thing of beauty that will protect and celebrate trees, and provide a space for people to pause with a tree. Over the years, the treefolds will remain unchanged, save for the addition of moss and lichen, but the trees within them, and the landscapes around them, will alter: a pleasing blend of constancy and change.

When we began planning the construction of three treefolds in Cumbria, it made sense for the central one to be in Grizedale Forest and we are more than delighted to have it here – in the first forest for sculpture in the UK. The team at Grizedale suggested the perfect spot (with a very long view!) and have been hands-on with support (thanks particularly to John – stones are not light!). Between July 17 and 21, during a week that was for the most part dry and sunny, treefold:centre took shape. Using stone reclaimed from fallen walls in the forest, something new has risen, thanks to the skillful work of master stone wall builder, Andrew Mason. Through-stones act as seats within the circle, a line of poetry sits in the wall (beautifully carved by Pip Hall), and, finally the top stones finish it off. In February next year we will be planting an aspen in the embrace of the treefold. The aspen will be among other aspens, and a variety of other tree species, that are being planted on the fell by the Foresty Commission.

Already the treefold is drawing visitors and it has been lovely to hear feedback from people who have found their way in, sat down, and paused to take in the dramatic, far reaching view from Carron Crag. You can read more more about the treefolds on our recent blogs on The Long View website here.

treefold:east Little Asby
and an invitation to join us

We’re kicking off August with the build of treefold:east. There’s a spot on Little Asby Common, just down the hill from the Little Asby Hawthorn, where a bare tree stump stands among limestone blocks. This is what’s left of the ‘Dowly Tree’, a tree that is a local landmark – a boundary marker perhaps, a stopping point or, if myth can be believed, a tree linked with duels in the past. The commoners have been keen to plant a new tree for some years and treefold:east will create a marker, and some protection for, a new tree. From within the fold, it will grow to command a view once held by the original Dowly Tree. The design of the treefold is the same as treefold:centrebut the stones will be different – we will be using Orton limestone.

Drop-in event: come and see the treefold taking shape.
August 7th, 12-2pm

We’re having an open day when you’re welcome to come along and meet us, talk to Andrew Mason, and hear about the history of the common from Jan Darrall, policy officer at Friends of the Lake District (the charity that owns this piece of land). For details of how to find us follow this link to our recent blog and scroll down.

Farming in the Yorkshire Dales

The rainy weather in July has been tough for farmers who are struggling to get a good crop of hay (you need a few days of dry weather for this) and to find windows of opportunity for getting sheep dry enough for clipping. The upside of this, from our point of view, is that farmers have had a little more time for the formal interviews that are part of ‘Voices from the Land‘. We have also joined farmers to get a feel for shearing, inside and out of doors, and we’ve woken early to walk among cows for morning milking. We’re not the only ones who have been busy: volunteers from Yorkshire and students from Leeds University have been out and about getting to know more about this National Park and the farming that is an integral part of its fabric. It’s exciting to be building up the collection of audio recordings, images and writing that will be exhibited (and later archived) in the Dales Countryside Museum alongside items from the museum’s collection, including some of Marie Hartley’s original woodblocks. Looking forward to launching the exhibition in October – more news soon.

Thank you!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, for those of you who came along to our talks in July, and the many people who have emailed us with comments and praise for The Long View exhibition and the book – it’s always heartening to receive feedback and to have conversations about issues that we care deeply about. We’re off now to spend several days outside as treefold:east takes shape and hope to see some of you there. Our next newsletter will come in September, but if you’d like to keep up to date more regularly, the best way is via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – the links are all below.

We wish you all the best for what remains of the summer, and will sign off with another poem – this one inspired by a day with the Wasdale Oak in 2016.

harriet & rob


here we sit, waiting
waiting for the light to change

there may be nothing in this wide view
to remark on, or everything:
it is a way of seeing

clouds shroud fells
summer shine subdued
rocks as old as time
wear lichen cloaks
and the day’s warmth

the sun sinks, pulled
into the unseen west

I lean into the trunk
as if drawn in, heart to heart
branches twist blacks
against a darkening sky
moon as a pale apple

waiting or rushing is a choice
for us, every action is a choice

and this tree could be a teacher
rooted, growing, in no hurry
settled into the scheme of things