“On this edge, the hedge. Just where the smallest, wildest, most unused field reaches to the open expanses of the unenclosed stretch of heather moor, there is a small stunted hawthorn tree.”
Kurt Jackson will return to the same hawthorn tree growing in a hedge near his home at St Just, Penwith, in Cornwall, and respond to how it changes through the seasons. This solitary tree is the remnants of an ancient hedge, and its form has been shaped by the weather and landscape over the years, contorted by wind, nibbled at by sheep and deer. ‘It’s low, almost bonsaied in its form,’ says Kurt. ‘It leans or rather points into the east, swept and blown from the west, from the prevailing winds off the Atlantic cliffs. It is a crashing wave of branch and stick.’
Kurt is an artist who embraces a range of materials and techniques to celebrate the natural environment. He was born in Blandford, Dorset, and graduated from St Peter’s College, Oxford, with a degree in Zoology. He has been Artist in Residence on the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, the Eden Project and at the Glastonbury Festival since 1999. He lives in St Just, Penwith, in Cornwall with his family. For this residency, he is making a series of mixed media paintings, one for each season, alongside a series of smaller sketches, poems and maquettes to record its changing appearance through the year. He will also run a series of educational workshops at the Jackson Foundation.
THE THORN WORKSHOP
On a fine day early in August Kurt led a small group to the ancient Thorn he is painting over the course of a year for his Tree Charter residency. It’s a rare thing that Kurt Jackson does a workshop so places were very limited. Ferried up bus to the Thorn and then a brisk walk. Kurt led a drawing workshop as the group studied the Thorn.
THE THORN IN WINTER
Through the seasons: Kurt Jackson began sketching the thorn tree in February, at the end of winter, and will return to the same place every season, creating a mixed media work on wood to express the tree through the year. The first piece is called: The thorn in winter from the south side. A wren sings to me, the wind blows under a weak winter sun and the thorn shivers.
Photography by Seth Jackson
This project forms part of the Tree Charter Art Residency Programme
The Thorn – Protection for important trees, Nature
The Charter for Trees, Woods and People will guide society towards a future in which trees and people stand stronger together. Help give it strength: Sign the Tree Charter
Principle 1 of the Tree Charter
Thriving habitats for diverse species
Principle 5 of the Tree Charter
Better protection for important trees and woods
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