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Branching Out for the Urban Tree Festival

January 15, 2021

A drawing trees project that I created for the Urban Tree Festival, May 2020

It was during the first lockdown in England and the festival decided to move online. I received a request to turn my walking drawing event into an online project instead. I created a video, ‘Branching Out’.

You can find more about it and links to the video as well as lots of other tree projects, on the Urban Tree Festival website and their YouTube channel. Stella Wisdom also wrote a British Library blog post about the festival and tree collage which included ‘Branching Out’.

Description of ‘Branching Out’ on the Urban Tree Festival Website:

Take part in a worldwide creation of imaginary trees by observing and drawing selected branches and foliage from sections of different trees. These might be seen from your garden or window, from photos or from memory. Using basic drawing materials, and a grid system, together we will create the structure for these fantastical trees, observing the shapes and forms, the junctions, and glimpses of sky shapes. Finding connections will be the key to creating this composition as the branching systems of nature reach out to connect us all, and give us a glimpse into different ways of looking at the environment around us.

All you have to do is draw a square section of an intersection of tree branches using black pen or ink, take a photo or scan of your drawing and post it on social media with the hashtag #BranchingOut #UrbanTreeFestival. Then sit back and watch it grow into a jigsaw of collated images from around the world. If you don’t want to do a drawing, feel free to create a collage, or use other media, or take some photos that others could draw from if they don’t have access to any trees themselves.

Open to all, from beginners to those more experienced.

We look forward to seeing what appears and where the branches might lead. If you’re looking to develop this project further, you could collate a selection of images from some of the images submitted from around the world, to create a grid structure for a fantastical tree of your imagination, observing the shapes and forms, the junctions, and glimpses of sky shapes, and finding connections between each grid to create a tree composition.

Following the success of the 2020 Urban Tree Festival, the festival was awarded the #TreeOscars Lockdown London Tree Champions by the Forestry Commission and the Greater London Authority. Let’s hope this means there will be lots more tree creativity to look forward to in 2021!

For those who now find themselves starting 2021 back in lockdown, this video is still online and is there for anyone looking for inspiration for a lockdown project. It can easily be adapted for homeschooling too. For those not in lockdown, it could be either an indoors or outdoors project and could also be created whilst out walking. Drawings were kindly created by some of my students so there are examples in the video to inspire your own responses.‘Branching Out’ was made using just my mobile phone, an old laptop and unsophisticated video techniques, but should hopefully give you plenty of ideas and techniques to create your own imaginary and fantastical tree.

Hope you enjoy the video if you’ve not already seen it. I’ll post links to any upcoming online events or courses I’m doing on social media.

Update: May 2021:  A companion video to Branching Out, Zooming In: Drawing Bark for the 2021 Urban Tree Festival is now on the festival website and YouTube channel.