Local artist, Des Hughes artist has been chosen from over 30 applicants to create a memorial artwork for a First World War Commemorative Woodland commission at Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum in Herefordshire.
The piece has been commissioned as part of the Heritage Gateway project that seeks to uncover and celebrate the history and heritage of Queenswood. The project that has been jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development while the creation of the artwork itself has been funded by a public fundraising appeal, which has received almost £12,000 in public donations from the Herefordshire community.
Des Hughes, visual artist, says of the commission,
“I am very interested in the layered history of Queenswood and the historical mark made by the First World War on the landscape, in particular the fact that Queenswood was clear-felled to provide wood for the war effort by the Women’s Timber Corps. Rather than this clearing action being seen as a negative, I think it can be understood as a series of ripples moving outwards; local small actions having a positive effect on the larger war effort and the long term effect as the birth of Queenswood as we know it today.
To reflect this, I propose to plant a series of concentric circles of trees in contrasting colour to reference the growth circles inside of a tree, marking a tree’s life. Although the effect could be seen clearly from above it will be viewed from within. To appreciate this, I will create a vista from within by omitting a cluster of trees at the centre of the ring, creating a viewing hole to the sky, acting as a reflective space that will change throughout the seasons and evolve over time. The piece is low impact on the environment and will not alter the shape of the landscape or disturb the tranquillity of Queenswood.”
Des Hughes is a nationally and internationally renowned artist who lives and works in Hereford. He has recently been commissioned to create outdoor work for The Hepworth, Wakefield (Museum of the Year 2017), New Art Centre, Salisbury and for a public space in Wellington, New Zealand. His work is also held in the Arts Council England collection. He regularly works with locally based companies to create his work, including Craven Dunnill Jackfield in Ironbridge.
The commission will be dedicated as a memorial to the First World War on the 29th June 2019 as part of wider events taking place on Armed Forces Day in the county, and to mark one hundred years on from the official end to the war.
Rose Farrington, Queenswood Heritage Gateway Project said,
“Des’s artwork will be a fitting recognition of the impact that the First World War had on the landscape of Herefordshire and the contribution the county made to the wider war effort, it will provide a reflective space to visit and a platform for learning about our history and heritage. As part of the artwork a number of trees have been felled within the woodland, the timber from which will be used to create seating within the new artwork and the clearing action will provide an opportunity to explore the past, looking at how the ‘Lumber Jill’s’ cleared our forests and the impact this had on the landscape both at the time and in the present day. I urge any community groups, particularly those groups supporting the Armed Services, who would like to be involved in the project to get in touch.”
Interested parties can contact Rose Farrington on 01432 356872 or firstname.lastname@example.org