Artist talks about OneOak sculpture

posted on March 2, 2011
Simon Clements with the OneOak sculpture

Simon Clements with the OneOak sculpture. Photo Angus Beaton.

Sculptor Simon Clements has talked about the inspiration behind the OneOak sculpture, unveiled at the Blenheim Estate in January 2010.

After the OneOak tree was felled in 2010 I wanted to create a memorial, sited where it had grown for 222 years.  I took as my inspiration decaying churchyard stones, ancient weathered timbers, and age worn lettering.  I decided that the memorial should be enigmatic: I imagine a curious passer by stumbling across a moss covered carving, weathered with age and wondering why it was there.  In the same way that plaques attached to the voyager space probes carried a scientific description of our species and our planet, I wanted my carving to describe a little about the tree and how we have made use of it.

A bough from the tree was split and opened rather like a book. On the right-hand page is carved the description of the tree, on the left-side page a description of our interaction with it.  After the OneOak exhibitions are over the sculpture will return to the woodland to stand like a sentinel amidst a grove of oak saplings. As they grow, I hope the memorial will age with grace and become (for those lucky enough to discover it) a meditation of our cultural debt to trees, and allow quiet contemplation upon the aesthetics of decay.

Simon Clements, Sculptor 2011.

Simon’s sculpture is currently sited on the base of the OneOak tree in the woodland at Blenheim.  It will be removed temporarily so that it can be displayed at the various OneOak exhibitions that are planned for 2011 and 2012.  The first of these will be at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden from April.


  1. Wow! This is a beautiful ‘memorial’. I can’t wait to visit the exhibition.

    Comment by Sarah Lawfull — May 3, 2011 @ 9:22 am

  2. Thank you Sarah. I hope you get to see the exhibition at Oxford Botanic Garden. I am delighted to say that we will also have a different OneOak exhibition at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History from September until January 2012 as well.

    Comment by Sylva Foundation — May 8, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

  3. […] memorial sculpture, from branchwood […]

    Pingback by SYLVA • reviving Britain's wood culture — July 17, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

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Category: Art, OneOak project

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