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The Ash Project

The Ash Project is an urgent cultural response to the devastating effects of Ash dieback. The project combines a major new commission by internationally recognised artists Ackroyd and Harvey with a wide ranging community engagement programme, an online archive and a plan for landscape restoration. The Ash project will celebrate the cultural, natural and social history of the Ash Tree, creating an extraordinary and enduring legacy for future generations. 

Background

The Ash tree is the most common tree in the Kent Downs and when Ash dieback (Chalara) was discovered in England, the Kent Downs was one of the first areas to notice the rapid spread of the disease. Chalara is widely accepted as being un-treatable and could see the demise of over 90 million Ash trees across England, Scotland and Wales over the next decade. 

Ackroyd & Harvey

For 25 years, Ackroyd & Harvey’s work has been exhibited in contemporary art galleries, museums and public spaces worldwide; sculpture, photography, architecture, ecology and biology intersect in their work, revealing an intrinsic bias towards process and event. This commission will continue their environmental investigations and will result in a large scale public artwork that will be supported by cultural institutions in Kent and landscape partnerships across the county.

“Our research has revealed a hidden wealth of industries carved from the ash, a myriad of wooden objects and artefacts that occupy historical significance and domestic use. Mythologies address the Ash as the tree at the centre of the world, the 'cosmic' tree. Contemporary science is studying genetic traits to understand how to cultivate disease resistant Ash stock. David Nash's "Ash Dome" is an internationally recognized artwork. The emotional, social and metaphorical relationship with this tree gives deep-rooted material for our artistic exploration." Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, November 2016.

The website

We are very excited to share The Ash Project’s website with you, designed by the fearless Bullet Creative.

On the site you will find information about the evolution of the commission by outstanding British artists Ackroyd and Harvey, the Ash Keys to the Future education programme designed by Outdoor Studios that begins in schools in June and the events programme that begins with a talk during London Tree Week by Ackroyd and Harvey and Edward Parker, ash author, photographer and director of the Springhead Trust.

Public Engagement

The commission is complimented by a two year programme of public engagement to include artists’ walks, green wood working, an evolving Ash Archive, public programmes at University of Kent, Turner Contemporary and Creative Foundation, Folkestone.  Educators Outdoor Studios, who work with school students to create extraordinary experiences in the outdoors, will lead a programme of activity in schools throughout Kent. This public programme will involve communities in actively documenting the contemporary and historic importance of the Ash Tree in Kent. This will be done in a wide partnership, including the Ancient Tree Forum, The Living Ash Project (Ash Tag), Kent Tree Conservation Volunteers, The National Trust, the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust.

Further Information

Get involved

Over the course of the project we will be announcing many more workshops including, hand crafting ash spoons, making a chair from an ash log,  ancient woodland management demonstrations, tree identification and woodland biodiversity. We will also be programming walks and creative workshops across Kent, so please sign up to the mailing list to stay up to date.

The project has been conceived and developed by the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit, the Ash Project is funded by the Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Kent County Council and will be a partnership supported by the Forestry Commission, the Woodland Trust Charter for Trees, University of Kent, Creative Foundation, Folkestone Triennial, Whitstable Biennale and the Turner Contemporary and many others. Please contact project manager, Madeleine Hodge, to find out how you can support and get involved in the project.

Project Manager: Madeleine Hodge

Email: Madeleine.hodge@kentdowns.org.uk

Phone: 01303 815170