I came across the group called the Arborealists about a year ago and was blown away by the variety of incredible paintings, prints and drawings all linked together through a shared theme of trees. I made a mental note that perhaps I should contact them. I recently happened to meet one of the founder members who told me that if I was interested in joining I needed to act fast as it was complicated to join, that they had recently capped the number of members to 50 and they were almost full. I applied immediately and am thrilled to say was promptly accepted as the 48th member.
The Arborealists were formed in 2013, the brain-child of curator and artist Tim Craven after the critical success of Under the Green Wood : Picturing the British Tree, an exhibition he co-curated at St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, Lymington, Hampshire. This exhibition was formed of two distinct parts. Part one was an historical review of artists who had occupied themselves drawing and painting trees and landscapes and included John Constable and Paul Nash amongst other 19th and 20th century celebrated artists. Part two, ‘Under the Greenwood’, featured 32 contemporary artists including a Turner Prize short-listee ,two Royal Academicians, contemporary artists such as Kurt Jackson and other artists who had given trees, forests and woods a special value. The exhibition showcased a great diversity of art practice, including scale, medium, style and philosophy, centered around the unifying subject of the tree.Under the Greenwood proved a substantial critical success and when the exhibition closed, many of the original group and other artists, including painters and printmakers formed together to become the Arborealists. Each time they have exhibited it has been to critical and popular success.
Trees provide a wonderfully versatile subject for artists, not only in terms of the incredible diversity of form, character and colour they provide, whether individually or collectively, but also in terms of the wealth of association, myth, folklore, religious and symbolic significance, which they have come to embody. I am absolutely thrilled to have become an Arborealist- particularly because of what the group stands for. It is not simply a showcase for trumpeting one’s own success. It is aimed at raising people’s awareness of nature. In these digital days we are becoming increasingly separated from nature and I think it is vital that we try and connect back to these roots in order to regain contentment. If through my paintings I inspire someone to go out into the countryside, breathe the air, stand and stare and listen to the birdsong I will feel I have achieved something worthwhile. The enthusiasm and ideas buzzing out from this group of artists in a sharing way is refreshing and I cannot wait to get started on some of the enriching projects that are lined up… more about these later.
The Arborealists are currently exhibiting at ‘Nature in Art’, which is the world’s first museum and art gallery dedicated to fine, decorative and applied art inspired by nature. I am not showing in this exhibition as I have only just joined the group but it is a fascinating and varied group of paintings and prints.
The Arborealists: A Celebration of Trees
April 11th – May 14th
Nature in Art
A38, Twigworth, Gloucester, GL2 9PA, UK
Telephone: 01452 731422