Eyes of Wonder

by Debra Urbacz

It was truly a treat for our community to have the ABC Art Trail back on the calendar this year, a timely reminder of the value that creativity has on our well being.  A little later on in the year than usual, nevertheless with its usual buzz, artists and patrons opened up their homes to bring us a physical gallery that spanned approximately four square miles of Broxtowe borough.

As in previous years, I cycled round the trail. This year though I was accompanied by a good friend and her eight year old daughter, Erin. Having never visited the trail with a child in tow before it became apparent that our progress might be a little slower. However, what she lacked in cycling speed she more than made up for with her wide-eyed perspective. Genuinely interested in getting her view of works to photograph and write about, I asked her to lead me to her favourites and tell me why she liked them more than any of the other brilliant works we saw.

We started down by the canal at Canalside Art, after a leisurely lunch at the Heritage Centre. Erin chose almost every painting of the dozen or so placed on easels around Janet’s garden for me to photograph,  but was in the red brick studio where she found her favourite painting – Pedro the rescue dog. “The doggy is cute and I like the colours in the background, they are calm and peaceful. The dog looks happy.” She stood observing Pedro as he sat obediently on his floor cushion, his eyes two shining Minstrels staring back at us from the canvas.

I wasn’t sure what an eight-year old would make of the haunting figures and sombre palette of Oliver Lovley, but as we ventured through the open front door on Burnham Avenue she was immediately drawn to the large square painting in the entrance hall. She noticed he had used “just three colours for the whole painting” and commented that “the tree looks really weird.” And she was right, there was something unsettling about that tree’s fractured form but at the same time it was elegantly beautiful.

We stood together and watched over it in silence for a short while before moving into the main room where Oliver was painting, surrounded by a large selection of his work.It took us a long time to get round them, captivated by the tiny painted figures captured in each frame.

It was clear that the bold colours of Oksana’s textile work would easily attract attention and Oksana herself was happy to share the process of rag rug making to a curious child. Naturally she loved the bright ‘fiery colours’ and found it difficult not to run her fingers over the pile, especially as she had seen the bag of fabric that was being used to make the rugs. However, it wasn’t until we pedalled our way to Red Lion Pottery that I felt my young companion was truly inspired.

Alan Birchall is always happy for visitors to pick up his pots and her little fingers were definitely enjoying exploring the different textures and patterns of his plates and bowls. She was particularly entranced by the collection of ceramics on the many shelves of his small studio. Pointing to a blue glazed bowl she declared, “ I like these pots because it’s like the ocean blue colours. It makes me … basically feel wooshing waves in my head. It reminds me of the sea.” I could picture the “ziggy-zaggy” pot she described and the “dabs of blue” on another as she flitted excitedly from shelf to shelf.

Zoe Zegzula’s textile toucans also caught the keen youngster’s eye but it was the panoramic landscape of lush olive grass velvet grass and spidery black trees that she requested I photograph. Again it seemed to be the variety of textures that interested her. On our last stop at Karen Attwood’s she elaborated on this further when stood looking up at one of Karen’s wet felted trees. “They have used lots of different fabrics and different colours of fabrics. It feels autumny because of the colours.”

It was rewardingly refreshing to view the artwork through a child’s eyes. We can learn a lot from their honest reactions and responses, maybe it IS simply beautiful because it is colourful.

Another lesson was also learned on that day, and that is how important it is to take your time to examine the details and look at the world again like everything is new and wonderful. Thank you Erin.

DU

Please note; the ABC Art Fair is on Sunday 10th October from 10-4pm at Attenborough Village Hall.

Featured Artist – Oliver Lovley

Featured Artist – Oliver Lovley

If you were a frequenter of the Malt Cross BC (Before Covid) then you will undoubtedly come across posters advertising Oliver’s life drawing classes or indeed the man  himself immersed in a bit of live painting as the artist in residence. I can distinctly remember a slender grey jacketed man sketching at one of the pedestal tables, to a lively background of cheerfully chattering people enjoying the architecture and supping their fine ales.

It was great to have the opportunity to catch up with Oliver again in the newly refurbished Greenhood Coffee House this July and talk to him about his recent work, which appears to have gained momentum since live exhibitions have become a thing again. Although we met briefly when Oliver joined the ABC Art Trail back in 2019, recent events have curtailed networking in general so it’s taken time for our paths to cross again despite both of us living in Beeston. He shows me his sketch book of observational figure drawings as we chat over an excellent coffee, and explains the process as capturing just enough information to ‘describe the people’ – the act of studying subjects as his connection to the outside world.

Oliver was born in Grantham but his parents moved to Nottingham when he was a baby. They based themselves in Newark and were living in Keyworth by the mid-80s where Oliver grew up and went to school. Although his degree at Loughborough University was Illustration, his course prepared him well for a career as a fine artist with an almost military regime of daily drawing. Having ‘tried unsuccessfully to be an illustrator’ down in London, following the success of a short animation film described as ‘hauntingly beautiful by Brief Encounters Film Festival judges in 2002, a disillusioned Oliver returned to Nottingham. Although there were signs that he should continue to hone his craft, as the portrait of his father he submitted for the prestigious National Gallery BP Portrait Award that same year made it through to the final exhibition.

Back in Nottingham, Oliver spent his time painting the landscapes around Keyworth and Belvoir Castle. Many of his earlier paintings are small watercolours depicting the natural forms of trees, fields and hedges in muted shades. They are delicately beautiful in their luminosity. Building up a collection of paintings led Oliver to look for commercial opportunities and came across the well-established Arts and Craft Fairs run by Alan Woolley in Beeston and West Bridgford. Growing interest in his work gave Oliver all the encouragement he needed to continue painting and selling at local events, securing commissions as his popularity expanded.

Another great event for him was the rather magical Craft in the City. A festive fair created by Anna French, Oliver felt his work was appreciated and talks about the encouragement he received from Anna and the supportive creative network in Nottingham that he felt lucky to be part of. Rather than competing with each others for the spotlight, there exists always a sense of mutual respect for the talents of other creatives which empowers the whole movement.

Approaching the welcoming team at Malt Cross at the end of 2015 led to a progression from artist in residence to him being invited to exhibit a selection of his work in their gallery space the following summer. Although this was not Oliver’s first exhibition, he felt that he had learned a lot since returning to his old school and exhibiting work in 2011 which was a strange if positive experience and he sold some of his paintings, which was incredibly rewarding.

As a follower of Oliver on social media, I have been noticing his newer work and the much more figurative nature of his subjects. He refers back to what he was taught in his illustration degree about the ‘visual language’ of creating an image – ‘the marks you make are your signature.’ His detailed sketches inform his paintings and he has gathered plenty of material to build up convincing forms. He applies a thick slice of paint with the palette knife first to give the figures substance, then adds in the finer detail with a fine brush, fading them into the background as objects that are further away do in real life. He describes his art as ‘explaining what’s there and talking about the emotions involved.’ He observes the scene and uses his ‘visual language’ to build in the stories. And he builds these beautifully, in textured layers.

Oliver talks through the process of how Football Crowds 2 came into being, an hour or two on Trent Bridge, intently studying the mannerisms and translating them into a serious of meaningful marks on the pages of his sketchbook. Catching glimpses of poses enabled Oliver to recreate the tension in the everyday scene, of football fans impatiently waiting for entrance to a pivotal game – instantly recognised by a football fan as the Nottingham versus Derby match. Despite not being a football fan himself, he totally captured the essence of the passion supporters feel for their team and their club. I particularly like the spectral shape of Nottingham Forest Football ground in the top left of the painting. It hangs in the air, a historical landmark, its heritage etched on the city’s skyline. The slightly contorted figures discomforted and restless and sombre tones belie the nervy anticipation.

You might also be surprised to learn that as well as being a rather accomplished painter, Oliver is also the frontman of the band Dog Explosion  – his sidekick being a small but rather formidable looking stuffed dog. Dog Explosion is one of the sound affects on the synthesiser he uses to make music to accompany his generally explosive lyrics. A contrast to the way his paintings slowly manifest before your eyes, he describes his songs as more of an ‘announcement!’ An onomatopoeic assault of words tumbling forth, often an expression of ‘life and its many frustrations’ there is definitely the same resonance of discord in his art.

Described by Left Lion’s Bassey Easton as ‘the kinda sound Sleaford Mods would make if they were middle class executives living in 1984 and singing about ulcers caused by their stressful jobs in the City.” It’s definitely worth a listen!

Oliver teaches classes at Artworks and will be setting up a selection 0f his paintings alongside knitwear designer Oksana Holbrook on Burham Avenue in Attenborough for the Art Trail this year. As well as ABC Art Fair at Attenborough Village Hall on October 10th you will find a selection of his works at Cupola Gallery in Sheffield and at Lakeside Arts in the coming year.

Dog Explosion will be performing with Obi Rudo at The Chameleon in August and will be starring at OXJAM again later in the year.

www.oliverlovley.com

www.dogexplosion.co.uk

DU

Featured Artist – Zoë Zegzula

I remember talking to Zoë about her Toucan at almost the same time last year when I was writing up an update on how the pandemic had impacted on the ABC Art Trail, and of course on the artists themselves. Like many public events, the Trail had to be cancelled. Although this was a huge disappointment for all involved, we at The Beestonian did our bit to support by creating a gallery of each artists work accompanied by a short bio.

Back then Zoë told us:

‘I love working with a variety of media, but textiles hold the greatest fascination for me.  The immense variety of textures and colours, natural or manmade, provides inspiration for endless ideas. I find working with textiles very relaxing, rewarding and essential to my well-being. Taking inspiration from our British Countryside continuously inspires me with inspiration for new work. I love combining art with textiles which stretches the boundary between art and craft.’

A complete change in direction for her, it was great to have an opportunity to discuss her move from muted pastels to a more vibrant exotic colour palette. Sitting on the sun-baked balcony at The Canalside Heritage Centre, Zoë tells me that at the start of the first lockdown she was ‘knocked for six.’ She felt so worried, and that along with all the cancelled events completely squashed her creativity. As an escape from the blanket of sadness that seemed to have suddenly engulfed many of us at the time, she sought refuge in her home and garden. 

It wasn’t until a friend asked her if she could make her a peacock brooch that Zoë contemplated sitting at her sewing machine at all. As a consequence she began pulling together a more intense selection of fabrics and threads – working with such brilliant colours her creativity was re-ignited. Adding orange and lime green threads to her stock colours, she started to look at other exotic birds and settled on a toucan for her next subject. Zoë created a few different versions and sold some of the larger pieces quite early on. The idea for the rainbow-billed toucan featured in this issue’s magazine, was more than likely a direct reference to the rainbows that she had seen suddenly appearing in windows up and down deserted streets, adopted as an emblem of encouragement and hope. 

The origins of Zoë’s carefully created textile pieces began when she was a child growing up in a small mining village between Wakefield and Pontefract when a make-and-mend attitude was fostered by families and communities passed on their skills. Her mum taught her to use a sewing machine and recycled materials were often used, nothing was wasted or thrown away – she mentions rag rugs and quilts as other ways she saw fabric reused.  In her home studio Zoë has a huge stash! Boxes of colour coded fabric scraps she enjoys rummaging through to find the perfect pieces to represent the texture of whatever natural form she is depicting. She talks about a delightful piece of beige lace fabric that was passed to her by her friend Pam – it had been a beautiful 1930s cocktail dress worn by Pam’s mother and had come to the end of its life. Zoë loves that she has managed to extend its use a little longer and it features in quite a few of her coastal scenes. 

She credits her confidence to experiment with a range of fabric types to her excellent training at South Nottingham College where she studied for several years to gain a City and Guilds certificates. The college was then known as a Centre of Excellence for the East Midlands and had annual end of year exhibitions of work that was considered to be of a very high standard – Zoë was truly inspired. She learned the full scope of what you could achieve with a sewing machine and a range of textiles. Courses included textile design, fabric techniques, which featured dyeing and manipulation of fabrics and machine embroidery. Being provided with great opportunities for practice  gave her the confidence to experiment and take risks – she felt she learned a lot from the other women on the course as well as the course tutors, who had created a empowering environment for their students to develop their practice. The course started with a return to mark making and drawing, which she already felt confident with. You can see by the way Zoë picks out the details in her pieces how adept she has become at free-machine embroidery. I recently admired how she used stitching to add weight to a bouquet of pink satin tulips in sugared almond pinks but I particularly love the tactile appearance of ‘Three Teasels’ and the depth she achieves in her landscapes.  

Zoë has been part of the ABC Art Trail since it became an off-shoot of Broxtowe Open Studios which was wider reaching but felt a little inaccessible as the studios were so far away from each other. She currently holds the position of Vice Chair and welcomes the community feel of the current event. As well as being heavily involved in the organisation and exhibiting in the Trail, she has also been the co-ordinator for the gallery space at Attenborough Nature Centre for the past ten years having initially being invited to exhibit there. She is hoping to exhibit a collection when the centre re-opens to the public later in the year.

Look out for our update on a new date for the ABC Art Trail, also in this issue!

https://zoezegzula.co.uk

DU

Creative champions!

Just before lockdown, the ABC Art Trail were preparing to launch their publicity for the 2020 Art Trail, we shared their Primary School Art Competition giving prizes for both Key Stage 1 and 2 inviting all schools in Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell to take part. They gave the children a loose title ‘Where I Live.’

The organisers were ‘overwhelmed with the tremendous response’ and the competition closed on 29 February. Entries were in their hundreds and they were brilliant! It took many months of socially distanced organisation but we are happy to inform you that judging was able to take place and we can now share with you the winners!

As the majority of the ABCAT sponsors allowed them to keep their support money the winners will be receiving a prize. All winning entries went on display as part of an exhibition
at Canalside Heritage Centre on Monday 2nd November 2020.

Many thanks to the ABCAT organisers for sending us the photographs of the children’s wonderful artwork. Don’t forget to congratulate them when you see them.

Enjoy the full gallery of work here

DU

Creative Beeston: Word on the Street Art

You can’t help noticing the wealth of gigantic artwork that sprung up around Beeston last summer. Most striking of all perhaps are the trio of famous Beestonians, Edwin Starr, Richard Beckinsale and Sir Paul Smith gazing down on you from the twenty-three feet high precinct walls on Station Rd.

If like us you love what the street art has added to Beeston then you will be pleased to be informed that more is on its way!  Attracting established local and international artists, our town is being rejuvenated by an overcoat of colour on the ugly areas past developments have left behind.

Beeston has been undergoing a huge transformation (particularly over the past seven years, since the tram extension began) and the street art has been the latest creation to redefine our town. It could be said that some of Beeston’s rich history has been highlighted by these artistic additions to its landscape; I am thinking in particular of Rob Jackson aka RJ77 Stencils’ Canary Girls on the side of The Victory Club when I type this, and the word on the street is that there is more of this to follow. I caught up with project manager Jeanie Barton at Greenhood Coffee House for a progress report.

Jeanie Barton

The original plan was conceptualised by Jeanie in 2017 and a call for design submissions went out. The response, and what has been achieved since, has exceeded all her expectations and she has been overwhelmed by the support the project has received from the community. You might remember that Beeston Street Art was launched by a lively festival on 16th and 17th June 2018 where a collective of skilled artists sprayed up their artwork at eleven different locations all over Beeston. The festival art was funded by a crowdfund and corporate sponsors and its success prompted Broxtowe Council to release an art fund they inherited from Henry Boot Plc.

They then commissioned their striking mural by internationally acclaimed artist Zabou on the side of the Birds building at the top of Station Road.  She painted her portrait of Robin Hood on the disused toilet block on the old bus station site during the festival to test the brick and clinch the job.  Whilst the festival added vibrancy to the town, the subsequent art work has served to bolster the idea that it can enhance its overall image.

Jeanie has worked tirelessly to organise the works so far plus forthcoming commissions; she feels the new murals on the way will bring more cohesion to the pieces we already have and build on the intrinsic history that Beeston possesses, bringing it to the fore.  The project seems to be growing more organically and this will be reflected in some of the new art.  With the remaining council fund plus another crowdfund and new sponsors who include Saint Property Services, we will soon welcome Mr Cenz, Peter Barber, N4T4, Jim Vision and Alex Rubes to paint; Jeanie also hopes to bring NeSpoon here this year as well – she has designed a piece based on Parkes’ machine lace which was manufactured at the Anglo Scotian Mill on Wollaton Road in the early 1900s.

These works in the pipeline are due to begin in late July. Owen Jenkins’ family have fundraised for a memorial to their son, which will raise awareness of the Open Water Education Network, the charity they founded following his tragic death at Beeston Weir after rescuing two of his friends.  His portrait will appear atop the Station Rd side of Hairven overlooking the square; Collette Osborne who owns the building was keen to host the commemorative piece. At the mention of this scarily tall building, Jeanie remembers the daunting task of learning to use the scissor lift to prep the opposite wall for Zabou’s artwork.

She will be doing the same again in preparation for Qubek’s nature inspired mural to be constructed on the remaining precinct walls to the left of Zabou’s work and the delivery entrance opposite Tesco also in July. His design will inject some natural beauty into this urban spot; he is particularly fond of painting flora and bees.  The bee has undeniably become our town’s symbol although the name ‘Beeston’ is derived from the old English word Beos (meaning long grass) and Tun (meaning town or settlement). If you look around, you will see that bees have already featured in the art around our town.

Jeanie tells me that there are a few other pieces due to pop up over the summer, one of which is top secret so I cannot reveal any details, however I think there are many locals for whom it will raise a smile. When she is not co-ordinating Beeston Street Art, Jeanie is making music and being a mummy to her 6 year old son. She also writes a weekly column, The Jazz Diary for the Nottingham Post in print on Fridays and is an award winning jazz singer/songwriter.

If you would like to know more about Beeston Street Art and view a map/guide of the current pieces, then join the Beeston Street Art group on Facebook or go to the Beeston and District Civic Society’s website – they have supported Jeanie in driving this initiative forward.

Jeanie’s musical endeavours can also be followed via her Facebook page or website jeaniebarton.com

Her third album Moments of Clarity is due be released on 28th June.

https://www.facebook.com/jeaniebartonofficial/

DU

ABC Art Trail: A festival of creativity

One of the highlights of the year is back!

That’s right, on the first weekend of June, the ABC Art Trail will be winding its way again around the roads, streets and avenues of Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell and this year it is even bigger than before.

If you have ever attended the two day festival of creativity then you will no doubt remember what a buzz it creates. If you haven’t, then grab a pen and write ‘ABC Art Trail’ on the 1st and 2nd of June on your calendar, or type it in your phone if you don’t have one of December’s featured photographer Lamar’s beautiful calendars hung up in the office like we do.

The Beestonian team both trailed and wrote about the whole weekend producing a raving review in July’s bumper issue last year. There was so much to see, and this year will be no exception. Expanded to include even more venues and more creatives it is ‘a wonderful opportunity to see some private studios that are rarely open to the public.’ With a mixed media collection of paint, print, textiles, jewellery, ceramics  and glass there is something to appeal to everyone’s tastes and budget.

When I met with Karen Atwood last year, who is one of the artists and organisers of the event, I was instantly struck by her passion in promoting the work of others in the trail. This pervades throughout the weekend as you visit each venue, some in home studios and other housed in local businesses. Artist supporting other artists and sharing their talents with those in the community is a wonderful thing to be part of. It is also brilliant to see how many local businesses have offered their support via sponsorship.

If it’s a weekend of creative inspiration you want then you have got it! If you are looking for a one-off gift that you might never see anywhere else, then that’s on offer too, and more than that you get a behind the scenes peek into a range of creative processes which can really make you appreciate the wealth of talented people we have residing in our local area.

You can read about last year’s ABC Art Trail by clicking on the link below:

https://beestonian.com/2018/07/27/creative-beeston-abc-arts-trail/

You can download a handy pocket-sized map of all 13 venues and 30 featured artists via the official website here:

www.abcarttrail.uk/map–flyer.html

Look out for promotional material popping up all over Beeston and follow the posts on their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/abcarttrail/

DU

Trees of Beeston

Trees of Beeston is a psychogeographical and art project that celebrates the arboreal entities and architectures that enrich the landscapes and lives of humans and animals living, working, or visiting Beeston in Nottinghamshire, UK.

tree1

Between spring and autumn 2018, Dr Jo Norcup will facilitate a small group of Beestonian tree-appreciators under the moniker ‘The Beeston Tree Appreciation Society’. We will map and record (via words, sounds and pictures) stories of trees that serve as landmarks and enhance the landscape of Beeston. Informed by historical and civic activities as well as by the stories and connections that Beestonians and honorary Beestonians have in how they connect and appreciate the trees that mark our landscape, a gazetteer map will be created so that residents and visitors alike might explore the local geography of Beeston and the living landmarks that endow and make habitable life in this part of the East Midlands.

Tree appreciation will be further explored in a series of forthcoming workshops and local field trips to be held in the autumn (details TBA).

For further details on how to get involved and to find out more go to www.geographyworkshop.com/TreesOfBeeston

Please follow on social media via @geo_workshop hashtag #TreesOfBeeston

Trees of Beeston #1 “The Truffula Trees” (Silver Birches) of King Street.

IMG_20180618_161747

“I speak for the trees, for they have no tongues”

In his children’s book The Lorax, Dr Seuss’s wise tree environmentalist and eco-warrior, The Lorax, warns of the rapid loss of trees and environments at the hands of short-term profiteering “I speak for the Trees” he repeats. The Once-ler (who narrates the sad story), tells how he learnt, too late, not to destroy the natural environment.  How, when the trees are removed, the animals, birds, insects and other animals move away, leaving a desolate and depleted landscape no animal, and indeed, no human wants to live in.  The moral: to be mindful of the future, to be wise custodians of the trees, plants, and animals that enrich our daily lives so that we and future generations might also have a quality of living that appreciates in turn the natural world and non-human lives that enrich it.

My son was the first to see the shape of the silver birches along King Street in Beeston as the Truffula trees of Dr Seuss’s tale.  On a street where there are no street trees to speak of apart from these majestic deciduous duo (save the holly tree growing from the cracked tarmac at the side of the ginnell wall between the motorcycle showroom and the housing near the Queen Street end of King Street – yes, I see you too wee tree), these two Silver Birches (and a couple of smaller saplings at their base) provide both landmark and respite to the eye from the primarily residential and industrial buildings along King Street.  Go closer to these trees, and you find a wee ecosystem, as the silver birch provides the lightest of canopy of leaves through which sunlight can dapple its way through to enable other plants to grow.  Other smaller saplings are present, fighting for light and space in their small location in front of an electrical sub-station where a small black fly-tipped bin and rubbish that someone has dumped has been grown over by wild flowers (“weeds” to give them their antisocial pejorative shorthand) and the foliage of the saplings.  Three types of valerian grow in white, pink and purple, giving colour and cover as well as pollen and habitat to insects and butterflies. The Silver Birch (Betula pendula) is known as a ‘pioneering tree’ because it can grow pretty much anywhere. The roots draw up nutrients and when its small serrated heart-shaped leaves and catkins fall, this deciduous tree provides fertile compostable nutrients in which other plants can find a home. It is a tiny oasis.  Walking past them regularly as we do, the sound of the leaves gently bristling in the slightest of breezes that on a parched heatwave day is akin to a lightly babbling brook. The sound calms. The cascade of leaves on thin branches cools with its light coverage. We always greet the trees with a respectful hello. They are friends.  They are much loved.  They make our daily lives better. We always slow down for them, more often than not stopping, for fleeting seconds to pay our respects. For local dog owners, these trees provide a stopping point and canine territorial interest. In 2013, The Beestonian (issue 21) published a poem by the local poet Steve Plowright about them.  It is repeated below.

A Pair of Silver Birch Trees

By Steve Plowright

Silver-soldered soldiers
Solid through the Seasons
Re-assurance resonates,
Whilst gazing through your filigree
Of branch and twig and leaf

Silver sheen of bark
Mercurial magicians
Light unwilling journeys
On sighing school mornings
You never beg to question

Just a pair of silver soldiers
Guardians of our secrets
You never show your feelings
Thanks for your solidarity
Thanks for being there

 

Tree facts: #1The Silver Birch

  • Botanical name: Betula pendula of family Betulacae
  • A native tree to Europe and parts of Asia, known in America as the European white birch.
  • Deciduous tree with a white peeling paper-like bark with slender and pendulous branches, it has small heart/triangular shaped leaves with serrated edges that are green in spring and summer, turning yellow before they fall in the autumn.
  • The Silver Birch flowers catkins and is self-pollinating bearing both male and female catkins (droopy and small, compact cylindrical respectively) that scatter seeds with the wind.
  • Known as a pioneer species of tree as they are often the first type of tree to appear in a clearing, the catkins produced often containing high levels of nitrates drawn up from the roots, the leaf and catkin litter producing fertile compost in which other plants are able to succeed.
  • Silver birches provide habitat for a diverse range of insect and bird species, and larger specimens in gardens and parks provide ideal perching points for songbirds.
  • Humans have derived a number of uses from the Silver Birch: their sap can be tapped when it rises in March, and the sweet liquid can be used a little like maple syrup or concentrated and fermented for brewing wine and beer. The timber of the Silver Birch can be used for joinery, firewood, brooms and tool handles. Medicinally, Silver Birch has been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic, and externally can be used to promote healing to relieve skin pain and inflammation as its decorative bark contains triterpenes.
  • The Silver Birch is the national tree of Finland.

References and wider reading:

Edlin, H.L. (1970) Collins guide to Tree Planting and Cultivation. Gardeners Book Club. Newton Abbott.

Plowright, S (2013) A pair of Silver Birch trees. The Beestonian no 21. Back page.

Dr JN