about the artwork
A Co-co-co-co-co-co-co-co-llaboration, 2021
Risograph prints (printed at Common Press, Oxford on recycled paper), wallpaper paste and 2 year-old oak (Quercus robur) sapling
The playful title of this installation describes the collaboration between the artist and Sustainable Woodstock, but also a broader collaboration between different people, organisms, matter, and environments, needed to support biodiversity and a less polluted atmosphere. During research for the project Sam visited Sustainable Woodstock’s 10-year old community woodland and orchard, and High Park in neighbouring Blenheim Palace, which has the highest concentration of ancient oak trees in Europe, and images from both sites feature in the posters.
The installation was constructed ‘from the ground up’ using posters as building blocks to create two tree-like forms, but left in an apparently unfinished state, having only grown halfway up the wall, suspended between growth and loss, action and stasis. This approach is echoed in the series of posters composed of quasi-poetic texts made using a process of addition and erasure, which reflect on the entanglement of data, science, and activism, in the language of sustainability and community action.
A second series of posters includes information on the activities of Sustainable Woodstock and smaller slogan posters that have additionally been placed in windows around Woodstock for the duration of the exhibition.
The installation also includes a single 2-year old oak sapling that will be planted in the community woodland. It contrasts with the large tree-like forms in the installation, inspired by the huge ancient oaks at High Park, which have been able to grow so old due to their location in a royal deer park (grazing supporting the slow growing oaks), the nature of the land’s ownership, and the control of wood collection.
Collectively, the juxtaposition between new and ancient oaks, in differing states of growth, and the variously poetic, pragmatic, and protesting language of the posters, seeks to refract, through the prism of Woodstock, how co-mmunity woodlands, co-untry estates, co-mmunity action groups, and the co-mmoning organisms and matter of the world, of the very old and the very new, may evolve and collaborate in the future.
about the artist
Sam Skinner is based in Oxford, UK, where he makes, curates and publishes via a range of projects and research strands. He is co-director of the nomadic publishing project Torque Editions (www.torquetorque.net) and is currently co-curating a library themed exhibition for Exhibition Research Lab, Liverpool and NeMe, Cyprus. This exhibition follows The New Observatory at FACT (2017) and RTM - A New Community Radio Station at TACO (2018), and is part of series exploring how transdisciplinary art practices, from archival research to printmaking, community activism to curating, can function collectively as a gesamtkunstwerk to manifest alternative socio-technical institutions. He has recently launched Fig, a new art and horticulture project in Oxford (www.fig.studio).
Sam Skinner www.samskinner.net
about the group
We were established in Woodstock in 2008 by our founder Colin Carritt. Our aim is to build awareness of the climate and ecological emergency and inspire individual and collective community and business action to reach net zero as fast as possible.
Presently, we are campaigning to make cycling and walking, safer and easier, especially for that “first or final mile commute” to trains or buses. It’s part of a larger campaign called Village Travel Network and includes a 20mph campaign for our local villages. We’re also planning to help create new cycle and walking routes throughout Woodstock and improve connectivity between the neighbouring villages and Woodstock, with help from Blenheim, that lies bang in the middle.
Our first campaign was in 2009 when we worked to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags in our local shops. We’re also campaigning to reduce our dependence on single-use plastics. We’ve gained support from the council and registered the town as a Plastic Free Community and surveyed schools and businesses, including Blenheim Estate.
We’ve been planting trees. Blenheim agreed a free lease and, in the winter of 2010, volunteers planted 1600 mixed native trees. 7 years later, another agreement with Blenheim and volunteers planted 82 heritage fruit trees to create a community orchard. Fruit trees are all now sponsored by community donations and today, the woodland canopy has nearly closed and we continue to develop and use the woodland and orchard by increasing biodiversity, learning new skills and we now have bees too.
Other activities include annual community litter picks, sowing yellow rattle and wildflowers to increase biodiversity, collective buying of solar PV to reduce costs, thermal imaging of homes, arranging talks and films, lobbying MPs and councils, encouraging re-use by holding swap shops and participating in demonstrations. All while communicating our message via regular newsletters and Facebook.
Read Hilary's story of Sustainable Woodstock, told to story collector Jules