Tree conservation has always been one of Ackroyd & Harvey’s key themes, particularly Joseph Beuys’s oak trees. This year the artists announced a new project, Ash to Ash. It was unveiled in September at White Horse Wood in Maidstone, Kent, and can be viewed from today until October 20 at the Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope Gallery in the UK. It is a resounding alarm call in the form of art.
Since the early 1990s, ash trees, often said to be the “world tree”, have been suffering from dieback caused by the chalara fungus which is predicted to gradually wipe the ash tree from the face of the Earth. The pathogen starts by attacking the leaves then penetrates the entire tree, which turns grey then black. Ash dieback has been observed all over Europe and is a major concern for both scientists and artists.
The Ash Project invited Ackroyd & Harvey to take up the topic and offer their interpretation of this dire situation. The artists created two ten-metre high monoliths by stripping the bark from one tree and burning the wood from another, then they pierced each of them with 10,000 arrows. The work has a very unique aura.
Placed side by side, the trees seem to echo each other, with the black tree looming over its neighbour like a shadowy threat. With this piece, the British duo hopes to mobilise public opinion around the cause of biodiversity conservation, since the disappearance of ash trees will impact 1058 other species.
Photos by Ackroyd & Harvey, Kent Down AONV and Manuel Vason