Acts of Tree Kindness: Creative Noticing

Welcome to the first day of our Acts of Tree Kindness programme, developed in partnership with the Urban Tree Festival. During the coming week (Saturday 16th to Sunday 24th May), we will be sharing a daily post, centred around a particular theme, with suggested activities.

Today we are focusing on Creative Noticing, and ways that we can begin to notice our local trees, using creative techniques.

Noticing trees is the first step towards understanding and caring for them. When we take a pause in our daily lives to consider the shape, volume, colours and textures of a tree, and respond creatively to it, then we can begin to be drawn into a relationship with it. Our creative responses may then encourage others to stop and notice their own local trees, valuing them in a new way.

We are inviting you to take a little time to really look at, touch and smell a tree near you. What do you notice? How could you record what you notice to share it with others?

Textures can be recorded by drawing, rubbing, taking a photo or pressing clay or play dough onto a tree’s trunk. The patterns on leaves can be printed onto paper with paint or ink.

As deciduous (non-evergreen) trees sprout leaves and draw water up their trunks in Spring and Summer, it’s possible to listen to the movement of the fluid within them using a stethoscope.

Photo: James Aldridge

You can listen to the sounds that the wind makes in the tree’s leaves, or of birds calling from its branches. We will be exploring the role of words and stories in coming to know trees in tomorrow’s Acts of Tree Kindness post.

You can also take a look at the work of artist Liz Miller, who focuses on a practice of Forest Listening.:

‘I am using listening as a method for re-connection with the woodland environment, and field recording to gather an audio archive of vibrations and resonances from within forest processes such as transpiration, decomposition and water saturation.’

Photo: Catherine Lamont Robinson (Bristol)

What other ways can you think of to respond creatively? For more ideas visit this blog post from the Ash Tree Stream project on Making Art with Ash Trees, where you will find a free downloadable resource, and tag any photos or artwork that you take/make on social media with #ActsOfTreeKindness.

You don’t have to worry about whether you are ‘good’ at art. What we are exploring here are the ways that we can use to help ourselves and others to notice trees. A tree that we may have walked past each day on our way to work without giving it a second glance before, now can be seen and valued in a new way.

Happy noticing!

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