#NationalTreeWeek: a Sheffield art uprising

In an act of defiance against Sheffield City Council’s tree felling scheme, an art exhibition has been set up.

Sarah Deakin, a co-founder of Street Tree Arts Sheffield (STARTS), helped set up the Fallen Boys, Standing Trees exhibition following the felling of more than 5,000 trees under the council’s ‘Streets Ahead’ scheme.

Mrs Deakin said: “People’s mental health is suffering and so many people have said ‘I’ve sat under a tree, I’ve painted it and I feel so much better for being with other people who feel the same’.

“We want to show there is more to the campaign than just standing under a tree and trying to stop it being felled, that people care and they want to record the trees before we lose them.”

The exhibition, which is being held during National Tree Week and is funded by The Woodland Trust, has had more than 300 visitors during the first three days.

Mrs Deakin said: “People have been really moved by the representations of the trees, by people’s passion and caring. If anything good has come out of this, is that I have made so many new friends.”

The exhibition was the culmination of a mass paint-off on Armistice Day to campaign against the felling of more than half of the war memorial trees found on Western Road in Crookes.

More than 100 artists gathered on a cold November day to paint all 53 memorial trees.

The paint-off was led by Dan Llywelyn Hall, an artist that has painted The Queen.

Mr Llywelyn Hall said: “Sitting with the trees, observing whilst drawing, helps you appreciate their individuality. Each tree was planted to represent an individual. They are more than living street furniture.”

STARTS all started with a woman lying under a tree for several hours in August. She was determined to save it from being chopped down, but staring at the tree was like watching paint dry.

So, the woman known as Bracken Moorland, decided to use her paints to immortalise the tree on paper.

Sarah passed Bracken on the street during her act of artistic defiance and curiously asked what she was doing. Bracken was painting to distract her from the court trials and protests involving trees. In that moment, they became “partners in paint” and STARTS blossomed from there.

There is no sign of stopping for STARTS, as they aim to continue to turn a negative into a positive through art.

Fallen Boys, Standing Trees, supported by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust as well as TREEspect, is free for the public to visit on December 2 and December 3 at Yellow Arch Studios.