Stables and Lucraft: Ulmus Londinium
27 October 2015 – 7 April 2016
Forty years ago it was impossible to walk through a London park and not notice the unmistakable outline of the elm tree. But in the 1970s millions of elm trees were lost to Dutch elm disease, transforming the urban landscape.
Unknown to most Londoners the elm’s unique qualities helped to transform the city’s infrastructure. Water pipes made of elm wood brought London’s first piped water and old London Bridge was built from elm. Their legacy continues to live on in the names of our streets and places, such as Nine Elms, which recognise the formidable trees that once towered above them.
The capital is still home to surviving elms in our streets and parks, improving our biodiversity by providing important habitats for particular species of moth, butterfly and lichen. The Conservation Foundation’s Ulmus Londinium project is helping to regenerate London’s elm population and raise awareness of their importance to the capital’s heritage and ecosystem.
This installation is the creation of design duo Stables & Lucraft to celebrate the Elm tree’s relationship with London’s historic built environment, crafts and biodiversity.
Thomas Pakenham, the indefatigable champion of trees, will tell the importance the elm and all our trees hold. His new book, The Company of Trees, recounts his forays with trees, often hazardous plant hunting expeditions, and his efforts to preserve magnificent old trees and historic woodlands.
As a quintessential icon of the British landscape, John Constable and many other artists have used the elm to depict and evoke emotions of our countryside. Artist and researcher Dr Anne Anderson, who is a member of the Arborealists and whose exhibition and publication “Under the Greenwood” is a celebration of the British Tree in the work of our major artists, will speak about how the elm has been used in art.
Using your smart phone hop on your cycle or set off on foot to see some of the capital’s elm heritage in central London, starting at Somerset House and finishing at “Albertopolis” – Exhibition Road. You’ll be able to uncover London’s elm trees and elm heritage, finding out more at each location and how the elm links to the capital’s wider culture and history. Approximately 2 hours by foot. Download it here: www.bit.ly/londonselms