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:
You can download a handy pocket-sized map of all 13 venues and 30 featured artists via the official website here:
Look out for promotional material popping up all over Beeston and follow the posts on their Facebook page:
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.
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.
“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
Solid through the Seasons
Whilst gazing through your filigree
Of branch and twig and leaf
Silver sheen of bark
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.