Intricate beauty of Petworth Park’s ancient trees revealed in new exhibition

Petworth GPS Trees by Richard Geraint Evans features incredibly detailed drawings of different tree specimens from the National Trust’s Petworth House and Park in West Sussex. Each artwork has its own set of GPS coordinates so that you can discover the tree for yourself.

Petworth House is known for its exquisite art collection, including portraits by famous artists such as Sir Anthony Van Dyck. However, in this new exhibition portraiture artist Richard turns the focus to nature, capturing nine images of ancient trees in near perfect likeness. These specimens can be found in Petworth’s grounds, along with a cedar that grows at the nearby National Trust’s Woolbeding Gardens.

Created with pen and graphite on cotton paper, then framed using sustainable softwood, Richard’s drawings help tell the story of the extraordinary trees at Petworth. One ancient specimen in the Deer Park here is around 940 years old. This oak has survived all the landscape changes since the 12th century. 

Richard tells the tale of his encounter with this ancient tree: “The first thing that struck me was the tree’s sheer size, not just the girth of the trunk but also its height. I myself first met this 940 year old colossus with my Mum in November 2008. It was a morning of occasional rain and we sheltered in its huge shadow; our sandwiches were saved and my sketchbooks remained dry. My gratitude is expressed through this drawing.”

The GPS coordinates of each tree are also noted by the drawing, so viewers can experience a connection with nature themselves. Richard explains: “By writing the tree’s GPS coordinates beneath my tree portraits I invite you to visit the actual tree. I do this because I want to create stronger emotional bonds between people and individual trees. I believe that once we take the time to find, meet and ‘connect’ with the subjects of my drawings we are more likely to care about the tree’s long-term welfare.”

Part of Richard’s work is about inspiring others to conserve the natural world, and encouraging protection of trees so they can continue to provide homes for wildlife, mitigation against climate change and natural beauty for everyone to enjoy. At Petworth, visitors can support conservation work by donating.

Sarah Taylor, Senior Programming Officer for Petworth House says: “It’s a pleasure to see Richard Geraint Evans’s detailed portraits of trees at Petworth go on display in the exhibition room here. These portraits show Richard’s incredible talent, but also the rich heritage of Petworth Park, and the magnificent stories the trees have to tell. The exhibition really summarises the spirit of Petworth, combining both artwork and conservation.”

GPS Trees by Richard Geraint Evans can be seen in the exhibition room of Petworth Servants’ Quarters, Monday 11th October to Sunday 5th December 2021, 10:30am-3:30pm. No advanced booking needed, but visitors are required to purchase a ticket to the site to enter, free for National Trust members. For more details visit the Petworth House and Park website.

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