Remembering Sycamore Gap
It's just over a month since the tragic felling of the famous Sycamore Gap tree beside Hadrian's Wall on 28th September 2023. This is a very special place for me and I've made many pieces of art about it.
If you're not in the UK, you might not realise the significance of this iconic tree which stood for 200 years, perfectly symmetrical, in a dip, on the Hadrian's Wall path in Northumberland. If you're my age, you'll know that Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman stood beside the tree in the movie "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves". This has always caused much amusement amongst locals as the pair are on their way from Dover to Sherwood Forest! (170 miles away). This led to it's alternative name of "Robin Hood's Tree".
I was a bit shocked when both the BBC and SkyNews approached me for interviews on the morning the news broke. I hadn't had time to formulate a reaction and didn't want to be thrust into the spotlight in that way! But I did write this statement:
"Sycamore Gap is such an iconic Northumberland landmark that gave both visitors and residents a strong sense of place. I've featured it in my artwork many times as the simple symmetry of the landform made a perfect composition that people really related to. It had a sense of permanence and stoicism as it braved wind, rain and snow all year round. It reminded us to remain anchored as we face the storms of life. It's hard to imagine Northumberland without it."
Everyone I know was shocked and upset by the loss and many people got in touch with me to express their feelings about it. Some wanted to know what artworks were available to remember the tree as it was. Feel free to express your own thoughts about it in the comments below.
As you'll know, most of my artwork draws upon imagination and memory rather than specific places. But the Northumberland landscape and coast is a powerful inspiration to me. I've brought together here some of the many images of Sycamore Gap I've made over the years
Sycamore Gap will always exist in my memory and I can make artwork about it whenever I wish, as my way of creating doesn't require that I draw directly from the subject. I feel for the very talented photographers who walk through the snow, get up before dawn or stay up all night to photograph very special views of the tree. The felling has robbed them of an important subject for their work. But everyone who walks the Hadrian's Wall path will now see the gaping loss and look with sadness on the denuded stump.
Aurora (original sold, prints can be ordered)
I followed the news closely as reporters tried to unravel the mystery of who did it and why. Whilst two people were arrested and released on bail, we still don't know their motivations. I'm sure a book or a movie will come out of it... You can read more about the story. UPDATE: two more arrests.
If you want to remember Sycamore Gap with a print or a card, you can browse my collection of iconic Northumberland views in this dedicated shop page. Will I make more originals of this view? I don't know... I do know that the lone tree in the landscape is a powerful theme in my work.
Lone Voice (original sold, prints can be ordered)