Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Field 2015

Field 2015

Trees in art and nature

In and around Hastings we are fortunate to have so many trees and woods. Trees mark the changing seasons, the cycle of life. Always changing.  But how often do we think – or even know – about trees? HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths talks to one person who does, Jim Roseveare, tree surgeon, artist and tutor of Looking At Trees with the Workers’ Educational Association, WEA.

Acer pseudoplatanus Sycamore 2005

Acer pseudoplatanus Sycamore 2005

Trees have loomed large in Jim Roseveare’s life. He remembers as a boy climbing trees, up into his own little secret place, high above the world. Hidden for hours, no one knowing where he was. He has never forgotten it, nor the adrenalin rush. Or his connection with trees – which was further strengthened when he went to college to study tree surgery. Straddling art, 35 years knowledge of trees and tree surgery, may seem different disciplines but they tap into two different parts of the brain which feeds into his art.

There have been three people particularly influential in Roseveare’s life. One was a tutor when he was studying photography and film who persuaded him to study for a BA  – something he had previously never considered. And then later, there were two men with a bold disposition who influenced him by example leading to greater confidence in Roseveare’s own work: one, his Hastings studio partner, the idiosyncratic, creative filmaker Andrew Kotting and Danny Pockets, another artist living in Hastings who recently, sadly, died. Pockets was someone who encouraged and challenged Roseveare, rather than being tentative in and about his work, to go for what he wanted. And that has led him to exhibiting with the London Group and outside of Hastings to Norway and the Venice Bieannale in 2017. This attitude has fed into much of the boldness in his approach to his recent work – like his archaeological and geological exploration with concrete.

His art makes you think and look forwards towards the future and backwards into the past, about the changing nature of the world.

Words that seem to encapsulate his work: simple (not simplistic) like a leaf falling at a critical part of a collaboration with his partner, Yumino Seki creating a powerful moment of absence and presence; essence of life: a woodland is eternal, everlasting, and yet, always changing; subtle and inward looking – even his photography reaches out of the frozen moment to express the energy behind life.

Roseveare has an enquiring mind and his art makes one think. His project, Measuring Tide, had him walking into the sea to visually reveal “that incredible massive shift of huge volumes of water” in a tidal flow every 12 hours.

Measuring Tide 2015

Measuring Tide 2015

People engage with his work. It does raise elemental questions and feelings. Art is not always beautifully laid out on a plate, immediately understood, art often requires a bit of head scratching and allowing emotions, feelings and sensitivity to encounter something meaningful – which may or may not be different from the artist’s intention. Much of his work demonstrates “the energy behind life forms, and how life flows”. Always questioning and curious, sometimes he finds he has to “destroy something to create something else and new”. With a different life force.

So the WEA Tree course in these hands will be a fascinating journey of discussion, discovery, observation, walking and looking.

There will be interesting facts to learn. That the oak is the most biodiverse native tree species – teeming with insects, birds, beasts and fungi. That trees communicate underground with their own species – and scientists have discovered they can do so with other species as well; that, for the health of the wood, a woodland will protect one of its own that is sickly.

Looking at Trees

Looking at Trees

Roseveare has run a course like this before and like himself as a boy, people had their own tree stories. One man  who, as a teenager, would hide a plastic bag in a tree hollow and change from whatever he was wearing into his punk gear and emerge fully fledged. And I am sure there are many more tree stories to emerge in his course.

The WEA course is over 6 sessions from 4 May to 15 June 2018. It covers tree biology, the inner workings of trees showing such features as growth and decay. Also the cultural heritage of trees.

Week 1: What is a tree? How is a tree adapted for survival.

Week 2: Tree structure, strength, flexibility and form.

Week 3: Decay and defence.

Week 4: Tree development from seed to veteran.

Week 5: Cultural heritage and future stewardship.

Week 6: An informal sharing of ideas, reflections, conversations about nature writers/ artists and most importantly the thoughts and stories which participants may bring to the group.

A level of fitness required for gentle walking. For more information and to enrol, check out this link: Looking At Trees.

Previous HOT article about:  Jim Roseveare about Yumino Seki  And another article.


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Posted 19:51 Saturday, Apr 28, 2018 In: Grassroots

1 Comment

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  1. Keith Piggott (Icarus)

    Jim Roseveare’s project caught my attention too late to participate. However, if he needs a tragic example of what ‘Honey Fungus’ can do to a magnificent Wellingtonian Cedar in our Victorian arboretum he could show his students our’s that in just 12 months has lost every needle and despite TPO is destined to be felled. KP Gillsmans Hill

    Comment by Keith Piggott (Icarus) — Saturday, May 5, 2018 @ 14:56

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