Caroline Wendling, Oaks & Amity
Deveron Arts, Huntly, Scotland
March - September

Oaks & Amity is a long-term art project that addresses the fragility of peace and ecology and their need to be carefully weighted and sustained in the future. Wysing Studio Artist Caroline Wendling is a French artist from Lorraine, a historically turbulent area formerly annexed by Germany.

Caroline Wendling Oaks & Amity

Caroline joined Deveron arts in Autumn 2014 for a project connecting several themes - that of pacifism, friendship, humanism, ecology and sustainability.

With Deveron Arts based in Huntly, Scotland, various aspects of Oaks & Amity project take place in and around the town and work directly with its inhabitants. Huntly has a strong military history through its connection with the Gordon Highlanders infantry regiment but also through its lesser known stories of pacifist activism from its conscientious objectors. Throughout her stay Caroline investigated both sides of the local history and used it in a variety of community art projects. Caroline’s residency culminated in planting of White Wood located in the Bin Forest outside of Huntly. One hundred years after World War I, the planting of the White Wood commemorates the peace between three nations, Scotland, Germany and France, as well as the lesser known war histories of the citizens of Huntly. The forest symbolises unification of three countries; with acorns of oak trees brought from Germany, planted in British soil and accompanied by white lime stones delivered from Saint-Pierre-Aigle in northern France.

The starting point and inspiration of the White Wood project is 7000 Oaks, a mass planting happening organized by artist Joseph Beuys, in Kassel, Germany in 1982 for Documenta VII. During Kassel Documenta XIII in 2012 Deveron Arts collected one hundred acorns from Beuys’ mother oaks and planted them in their Huntly based office garden.

For the Oaks & Amity project forty-nine of the strongest oak saplings were selected to form the core of the White Wood. Each of the oak trees is planted together with one of the French stones buried next to it, which serves as a reminiscence of soldiers who died a century ago without their graves. As the oak trees grow, the stones are gradually lifted out of the ground by the roots, thus proving that history is still present, even if not seen at first sight. White Wood is planted in carefully arranged geometrical patterns to be differentiated from its surrounding areas and to be recognisable for generations to come. The main clearing of the wood is shielded by three concentric tree circles followed by a rectangular net of birch trees that finally merge into a more organic array of minor trees and offer a gradual and unobtrusive entrance to the site.

On 27 and 28 March 2015 with help of nearly 150 planters, including children from Huntly Schools and students from Argentina, the oaks were planted together with over 750 other trees and more than 1000 flower bulbs. All were meticulously chosen by Caroline to be native flora to Scotland and toned in white as representation of peace, whether according to their overall colouring or colour of their blossom. The selection included plants such as silver birch, rowan, ramsons, snowdrops, foxgloves, wood anemone and others. The White Wood will grow to its full size within the next 300 years providing a memorial site for rest and reflection but also a vibrant place for a variety of talks and events. With proper care the White Wood will become a lasting symbol of peace, ecology, friendship and longevity.
Text by Alice Maselnikova

Further information about the project is available on the Deveron Arts website here.

Information about Caroline Wendling is available on the Wysing Studio Artist page here.