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Simon Clements with the OneOak sculpture

Simon Clements with the OneOak sculpture. Photo Angus Beaton.

Sculptor Simon Clements has talked about the inspiration behind the OneOak sculpture, unveiled at the Blenheim Estate in January 2010.

After the OneOak tree was felled in 2010 I wanted to create a memorial, sited where it had grown for 222 years.  I took as my inspiration decaying churchyard stones, ancient weathered timbers, and age worn lettering.  I decided that the memorial should be enigmatic: I imagine a curious passer by stumbling across a moss covered carving, weathered with age and wondering why it was there.  In the same way that plaques attached to the voyager space probes carried a scientific description of our species and our planet, I wanted my carving to describe a little about the tree and how we have made use of it.

A bough from the tree was split and opened rather like a book. On the right-hand page is carved the description of the tree, on the left-side page a description of our interaction with it.  After the OneOak exhibitions are over the sculpture will return to the woodland to stand like a sentinel amidst a grove of oak saplings. As they grow, I hope the memorial will age with grace and become (for those lucky enough to discover it) a meditation of our cultural debt to trees, and allow quiet contemplation upon the aesthetics of decay.

Simon Clements, Sculptor 2011.

Simon’s sculpture is currently sited on the base of the OneOak tree in the woodland at Blenheim.  It will be removed temporarily so that it can be displayed at the various OneOak exhibitions that are planned for 2011 and 2012.  The first of these will be at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden from April.

In the final act of the OneOak project, today we returned the OneOak memorial sculpture to its rightful home; to the woodland at Blenheim Palace.

The end of the OneOak project

The end of the OneOak project: the forestry team at Blenheim Palace gather with sculptor Simon Clements (right) and Sylva’s Gabriel Hemery (left)

The sculpture, designed and made by Simon Clements, toured around all the OneOak exhibition venues during 2011 and 2012 but it was always destined to rest on top of the stump of the OneOak tree that provided the inspiration and material for the three year project. The sculpture will now remain in the woodland to weather and grow a natural patina of mosses and lichens, surrounded by a small forest of 250 oak trees.

One of the 250 oak trees planted by school children

One of the 250 oak trees planted by school children emerges from its treeshelter near the OneOak memorial sculpture

Installing the OneOak memorial sculpture

Installing the OneOak memorial sculpture and repairing a few tree stakes damaged by browsing deer

Simon Clements installs the OneOak memorial sculpture

Simon Clements installs the OneOak memorial sculpture on the tree stump

The OneOak sculpture returns

The OneOak sculpture returns fresh from its journeys around Britain – last seen in Edinburgh!

Our thanks to Simon Clements and the forestry team at Blenheim Palace.

A major milestone was reached in the OneOak project yesterday. The timber was removed from the drying kiln at Deep in Wood sawmill, and the Makers came to collect their boards.

OneOak Makers - November 2011

Some of the OneOak Makers gathered in the timber shop at Deep in Wood

Makers present included Philip Koomen, Derek Elliot, Robert Ingham, Philip Clayden, Simon Clements, Martin Damen, Terry Hardaker, Pathway Workshop, and students from Rycotewood Furniture Centre (Oxford & Cherwell Valley College) led by Chris Hyde and Joseph Bray.

These makers will be working mostly with the main sawn boards from the OneOak tree, and their products will join those already made by other makers from its branchwood and waste products. All Makers will now get underway in making a myriad of wooden objects from the OneOak tree’s timber, in readiness for our major exhibitions from Summer 2012.

Our huge thanks to James Binning and team at Deep in Wood for hosting the event and for their generous support of the  OneOak project over the last two years.


Art in Action 2011

For the second year running we are taking the OneOak exhibition to Art in Action; one the UK’s major art shows.

This year we are delighted to have some of our makers and collaborators alongside us in the Woodworking area.  These include Richard Fox sculptor, Rodas Irving green furniture maker, Martin Damen green woodworker, Rycotewood Furniture Centre, Living Woods magazine, DZ Design and Simon Clements.

We will be showing several of our films, displaying some of the inspiring original works of art, and have several large pieces that have been already been made from the OneOak tree.  We will display the memorial sculpture made by Simon Clements, a spider bench made by Ian Smith of Rycotewood, and we will display the first length of timber and the 22 boards from the tree in the form that it’s been dried at the sawmill.

For the first time we are also selling limited edition prints of some of the artwork.

Art in Action is on between Thursday 21st and Sunday 24th July – we hope to see you there.

Find out more including directions and about the show

Singing around the OneOak sculpture

Singing around the OneOak sculpture. Photo Angus Beaton

One hundred guests, including children from our partner primary schools, returned to the site where the OneOak tree was felled one year ago.  They came to celebrate the life of the OneOak tree and to plant a new generation of oak trees.

We unveiled a stunning sculpture by Simon Clements, sang tree planting ‘shanties’ written by musician Sarah Morgan, and planted trees with the support of Nicholson Nurseries.  The sculpture was unveiled by His Grace the Duke of Marlborough today, and into the future the new forest will be tended by his expert foresters.

Forty school children came today, five representing each of the classes, while their classmates will all be coming to the site over coming days to plant their own trees: reaching a total of 250 new oak trees by the end of the week.

OneOak tree planting

OneOak tree planting. Photo Angus Beaton

You can hear a report on the day on BBC Radio Oxford at 1650 today, and see the day in pictures on BBC1 Oxford News today at 1830.  Missed it?  Click here to watch the BBC film



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