Peter Randall Page

In Praise of Trees

Creating public art that is treasured

Take A Part has been working with communities across Plymouth to support them to engage with art and to make choices about art in their local area. A key aspect of this is their local greenspaces and how they are used and developed. We have a long term partnership with Plymouth City Council’s Active Neighbourhood Team, who support communities to care for and engage in their local greenspaces.

In 2011, through Section 106 funds that were allocated to the local area, the Green Infrastructure Team at Plymouth City Council invited Take A Part to work with the Friends of Ham Woods (in North Prospect - previously known as Swilly) and Plymouth City Council’s Public Art Officer to consider their local greenspace and to think about how people would use the space and play in it.

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Peter Randall Page

We were lucky to have a very strong Friends of Ham Woods group active in the area to work with. We worked with them to find out more about what they liked in terms of the local area and took them on ‘Go and See’ trips to look at art in natural spaces (with the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World). With an understanding of budget, ambition and of scale, they wrote the artist brief and began a commissioning process.

Through interviews and studio visits, they settled on working with internationally renowned British sculptor Peter Randall-Page. He spent time learning of the heritage of Ham Woods, of spots that were important to the local community and more about the needs of the commission (functionality, developing new skills etc).

The result was ‘In Praise of Trees’, a sculpture of a tree felled by a storm in the woods the previous year on Christmas Day that was much loved. Set into the bank where the tree fell, it incorporated a functional oak seat. Through working with local dry stone wallers to create the space around the work, skills development was fostered.

I loved every day of this. Speaking to Peter, helping by taking photos, talking to the installers and walking by it each day. It is so wonderful.

Fran Dansie Friends of Ham Woods

It is more. More than beautiful. It is essential to this place.

Brian Vincent Cabinet Member for Environment, Plymouth City Council

I loved every day of this. Speaking to Peter, helping by taking photos, talking to the installers and walking by it each day. It is so wonderful.

Fran Dansie Friends of Ham Woods

It is more. More than beautiful. It is essential to this place.

Brian Vincent Cabinet Member for Environment, Plymouth City Council

The process took one and a half years. A long time was spent researching, thinking, looking and talking. Taking that time and care and allowing the artist and the community group to collectively work to understand and execute a vision was not easy, but the results were amazing.

‘In Praise of Trees’ has been undamaged since it was erected in 2012. A statue in a valley in an area of Plymouth known as an area of higher than average crime. This is because the local community love it. The community have gone on to raise funds and commission more art work in Ham Woods, creating legacy beyond the project.

Plymouth City Council has dubbed the sculpture “iconic".

Take A Part have also worked on permanent pieces of work in other areas of Plymouth such as the ‘Kinterbury Creek Bridge’ (Barne Barton) and ‘Listening to Silence’ (Efford Marshes).