The Long View at ONCA
Two years with seven remarkably ordinary trees. Photography, poetry and installations inspired by slow time among the trees.
30 May – 10 June // Open 12 – 6pm Wednesday to Saturdays & 12 – 4pm Sundays
Thursday 31 May, 6 – 8pm // Private View
Friday 1 June, 9.30 – 11.30am // Children’s art workshop
The Long View is an invitation to slow down and pause with seven remarkably ordinary lone trees, and let your mind wander beyond these, to trees, woods and forests across the world. For more than two years, photographer Rob Fraser and writer Harriet Fraser have been visiting seven trees in Cumbria – a hawthorn, a rowan, an alder, a Scot’s pine, a sycamore, a birch and a sessile oak. They have walked to them and spent long hours with them in all weathers, all seasons, day and night. The Long View exhibition brings together hand-printed photographs, poetry and journal entries drawn from these visits and from the 118km walk between the trees, as well as installation art inspired by the trees, the landscape around them, and the experience of dwelling there.
In the process of getting to know these trees, Rob and Harriet have met and interviewed arborealists, ecologists, farmers, land managers and wood workers, as well as other artists and many who simply love trees. Over two years, the Frasers have walked to the seven trees with more than 350 people, in small groups, taking time to pause and celebrate the wonder and beauty of the natural environment and to consider the many layers of landscape and the complex web of demands on it.
Through this constellation of seven trees, The Long View moves the focus from small, specific details to nationally and globally vital questions about our relationship to the land around us and possibilities for reversing the decline in destruction to habitats and species, and moving towards a healthy, biodiverse and bio-abundant environment.
The Long View comes to ONCA after successful shows in Grizedale Forest, Cumbria; Newcastle’s Great North Museum: Hancock; and Oxford’s North Wall Gallery. The exhibition is accompanied by a 180-page full colour book.
‘Quite simply wonderful’ // ‘Superb!’ // ‘Loved it!’ // ‘Completely absorbing’ // ‘Moved to tears’
About the artists
Harriet Fraser and Rob Fraser work together as ‘somewhere-nowhere’, a creative practice rooted in the outdoors that uses exploration and creativity to build connections between people and nature, and enter debates about sustaining sensitive environments and cultures. They have worked together since 2011 with self-led projects and through commissions, including work engaging with land management organisations, schools and communities.
Their visual art and writing has been widely published and exhibited across the UK, they work alongside research groups and universities, and they continue to promote the UK Tree Charter, which they championed and helped to launch through The Long View.
“Our creative work stems from time outdoors, and this includes long distance and multi-day walks, allowing for a great deal of pausing. We become acutely sensitive to what is around us, and respond creatively to place as well as to journeying. Our research involves conversations with people who are in close contact with environmental issues and our work is informed by what we learn about the environment and the cultures that depend on the environment, including upland farming and forestry. Through poetry, photography and installations, we invite consideration and conversations about our place as humans in the environments we love, inhabit and alter. We highlight spots of wild, we encourage participation, and we provoke questions about the way forward in a time of environmental stress. Our emphasis is on the values we attribute to place and how these influence the way we are inspired to care for them. We also explore ideas of connection and disconnection between humans and ‘nature’, and what happens when any distinction between the two dissolves.”
‘The modest two walls of this show suddenly become a window onto the rest of the world. What initially appears as a display of photographs and texts is in fact a skilfully self-curated journey through poetry, research, community engagement, printmaking, storying, expeditions, place-philosophy, imagery, meditation and environmental concerns. Rob’s immaculate photographs range from monochrome traceries mounted like archive drawings, to huge colour tree-portraits with ambiguous hovering viewpoints that seem to sense the very curvature of the earth. Harriet’s thought-cloud journal musings, spare, haiku-inspired poems and silkscreened word-art pieces are interspersed with factual captions and titles etched on blocks cut from the relevant species. There are dates, altitudes and coordinates, but no botanical names – these are exercises in navigating inner and outer spaces, not laboratory deconstructions.’
Review by Dave Pritchard for Corridor:8 during the exhibition at The Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle.