OneOak news release – One oak tree: Forty gifts to life

posted on July 17, 2012

A unique project following the full life story of a single oak tree reaches a finale this week, with the first of a series of manor exhibitions at Art in Action, where all the items made from the tree are being brought together for the first time. The products range from the waste sawdust used by legendary chef Raymond Blanc to smoke salmon, to a throne chair worth £6000, and dozens of other items including charcoal, wood block prints, tables, benches, door, house, boat, and woodchip for bioenergy.

  • The OneOak project is an environmental project of the Sylva Foundation, following the full life story of one oak tree.
  • The aim of the project is to bring people closer to the importance of our woodlands and of wood in modern society.
  • The 222 year old OneOak tree was felled on the Blenheim Estate in January 2010, witnessed by 250 school children. It had been grown in a plantation for its timber, having been planted in 1788; the same year that The Times was first published and when the French Revolution was just beginning to stir.
  • The OneOak tree is now the most studied oak tree in Britain: it has been weighed, measured with lasers to create a 3D model, studied by a dendrochronologist, and had its carbon content estimated.
  • It has been featured by dozens of artists, sculptors and photographers.
  • Many of Britain’s leading designer-makers have made items using the wood of the OneOak tree. These total over 40 different products, and counting.
  • The 250 children who witnessed the felling each planted a young oak tree in January 2011, one year after the tree was felled, to fulfil the cycle in sustainable forest management.
  • The first exhibition is at Art in Action, followed by six weeks at Blenheim Palace, then six weeks at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.


Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation and project co-ordinator Dr Gabriel Hemery said “this has been an amazing project that has inspired both the public and those who make a living working with wood and caring for our woodlands. Everyone has given their time to the project in so many different ways because they have been inspired by the concept:- the realisation that trees and wood are still vital to life even in modern society.”

Dr Hemery continued “after three years of hard work it is immensely exciting to be bringing together all the various elements of the OneOak project for our exhibitions during the Summer and Autumn. We will be able to show the public the stunning artwork, spell-binding films, earth-shattering science, and the myriad of truly amazing wood-based products. The only products that we won’t be able include in real life in the exhibitions will be the house and the boat!”

The OneOak exhibition at Art in Action is replacing the usual ‘Woodworking’ section; the marquee will be filled uniquely with all the products of the OneOak tree. Artists, musicians, sculptors and designer-makers will be on-hand to talk and demonstrate about their work in the OneOak project. Some 25,000 people are expected to attend over the four days, and where special measures have been put in place to cope with the soggy ground.  See note from Art in Action

The following have been made to date: firewood, woodchip (to heat a house for 6 weeks), sawdust for smoking food by Raymond Blanc, charcoal, bracing beams for a house, transom beam in a boat rowed in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Flotilla, door and frame, chest, pedestal table, coffee table, throne chair, clock, lantern, moebius sculpture, jewellery, acorn oakbot sculpture from waste slabwood, memorial sculpture, carved bowls, carved spoons, turned bowls, carvings, automata, commemorative garden bench by disabled workers, five benches for primary schools including the spider bench, contemplation bench, MakeIT! bench national school design competition, nesting tables, fine furniture competition winners pieces, small craft items, deer, viola chin rest, printing blocks, relief carving, sounding bowl.

Details of the OneOak products along with the stories of their making can be found here:

The project website is

Exhibition dates:

Art in Action, Waterperry                             19th – 22nd July 2012                      Art in Action

Blenheim Palace                                               25th July – 4th October                  OneOak at Blenheim Palace

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh               12th October – 2nd December    Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

More information

download the full News Release

download the full News Release

Download the full News Release


end of News Release

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Telling tale of how tree lives on

posted on May 8, 2012

One of our OneOak Makers, Philip Koomen, was featured last week in an excellent article in The Oxford Times. Also, our CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery gave a talk at Philip’s workshops last weekend as part of Oxfordshire Artweeks.

You can read The Oxford Times article here

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OneOak tree planting film

posted on September 8, 2011

Today we have published a new 12 minute film featuring the OneOak planting event, and the unveiling of Simon Clement’s sculpture, at the Blenheim woodland in January 2011.

Our huge thanks to Editor Conrad Weisterantz and Camera Sarah Simblet.  And of course all the children who worked so hard to plant the 250 oak trees.

Category: Media, OneOak project

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OneOak interviews on BBC Radio

posted on June 24, 2011
BBC Radio Oxford

Wesley Smith of BBC Radio Oxford visited the OneOak exhibition at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden (OBG) earlier this week.  He enjoyed looking around the exhibits and talking with our CEO Gabriel Hemery and volunteer curator Jane King.  He also spoke with Emma Williams from OBG.

You can listen to the programme this Sunday 26th June between 1300-1330.  We understand that there will be two separate features. If you miss it or live outside of the area you can listen again online for one week only.

The OneOak exhibition is open until 4th July at OBG.  After a short break, during which we are holding a major exhibition at Art in Action (more of which soon), the exhibition returns to OBG for the whole of August.

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Oxfordshire’s children celebrate life of a mighty oak

posted on February 1, 2011

The planting of a new oak forest in our OneOak project was featured in the Oxford Mail, on Tuesday 1st February. Oxfordshire’s children celebrate life of a mighty oak.

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A new oak forest

posted on January 31, 2011
Singing around the OneOak sculpture

Singing around the OneOak sculpture. Photo Angus Beaton

One hundred guests, including children from our partner primary schools, returned to the site where the OneOak tree was felled one year ago.  They came to celebrate the life of the OneOak tree and to plant a new generation of oak trees.

We unveiled a stunning sculpture by Simon Clements, sang tree planting ‘shanties’ written by musician Sarah Morgan, and planted trees with the support of Nicholson Nurseries.  The sculpture was unveiled by His Grace the Duke of Marlborough today, and into the future the new forest will be tended by his expert foresters.

Forty school children came today, five representing each of the classes, while their classmates will all be coming to the site over coming days to plant their own trees: reaching a total of 250 new oak trees by the end of the week.

OneOak tree planting

OneOak tree planting. Photo Angus Beaton

You can hear a report on the day on BBC Radio Oxford at 1650 today, and see the day in pictures on BBC1 Oxford News today at 1830.  Missed it?  Click here to watch the BBC film


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Oak tells a story

posted on January 7, 2011
Oak tells a story

download pdf of article

An article about the research activities undertaken in our OneOak project has been published in the Chartered Forester magazine.

Our CEO Gabriel Hemery co-wrote the article with James Morison, from the Centre for Forests and Climate Change at Forest Research, to tell the extraordinary scientific stories behind what has become one the most studied trees in Britain.  They explain the tree measuring, laser scanning, volume and weight work, the calculation of embodied carbon, dendrochronology studies, and wood footprinting.

We are very grateful to Institute of Chartered Foresters for allowing us to provide the article as a free download.

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OneOak story told in Living Woods magazine

posted on January 4, 2011

OneOak is featured in a four page spread in the current issue of Living Woods magazine.

The main article was written by our CEO Gabriel Hemery, with editorial stories featuring two of our OneOak partners: green woodworker Martin Damen, and Nick Bainbridge the forester at Blenheim Palace.

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OneOak stand at ArtinAction

posted on August 5, 2010

Our stand at Art in Action at Waterperry seemed to attract a lot of interest.  We received a good write up in the Oxford Mail and local papers (despite the typo of our name).  Read more

Category: Media, OneOak project

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OneOak exhibition underway

posted on May 30, 2010

After a filthy wet first day at the Blenheim craft fair, spirits are up at the OneOak stand as the sun is shining today.

Interest in the project has been good and it is has been interesting talking to the many people who grapple with the notion that felling a 160 year old can be sustainable.

The most common question is usually “why this tree – was it diseased or had it fallen down?”. The answer, “because it was ready”, then normally starts a good discussion.

Category: Media, OneOak project

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