“This tree is bigger”

Oct 25, 2014 | Children and art, Thoughts and ideas

“Young children are profound and inexhaustible explorers of wild places, yet the voices that describe our landscapes are predominantly adult. ‘This tree is bigger than earth’ relocates children’s real and fantastical worlds and created works back in the small patch of tangled woodland that inspired them, and asks us to consider their languages of discovery as authoritative and provocative.”

This Tree is Bigger Than the Earth was an event created and run by Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination and part of Art Language Location, an art festival that takes place in October at various locations throughout Cambridge. This Tree is Bigger Than the Earth was a collaboration: between the 4 & 5 year old pupils; the head teacher and the staff at the Spinney Primary School; artist and curator Deb Wilenski and the members of CCI. The project started in the spring of 2014 and is an eclectic mix of text, collected objects and illustrations, all inspired by the wildness of the woodland area. The aim of the evening was to see “What do they [young children] tell you about the woods?” and to ask “How does wildness look different through their eyes?”

I went along with my camera, and my five year old daughter went along with her torch, to see what it was all about. Initially my daughter was confused as to why there wasn’t a tree that “is bigger than the earth”. After one of the volunteers and I explained to her why that was impossible, and she’d approved of our explanation, she was in her element! As David Bond from Project Wild Thing would say, she is a natural “wild child”. She loves being outdoors regardless of the weather, the temperature or availability of light. She also loves creating art with whatever she can lay her hands on. So the combination of being outdoors and creative, really was her idea of a “wild time”.

On the way home I asked her “What was your favourite activity?” and she genuinely struggled to pick just one. Eventually she plump for the Maps to Make/Get Lost With, which along with my naturally-absent sense of direction, was exactly what we created together that autumnal evening in the woods.

Further details about the project on the CCI website and an article in Cambridge News.