• Hardly Even A Tree

    2017 Made for London Design Festival in response to the opening of the new Elephant Park in Elephant and Castle.

    Tree (noun): A woody perennial plant, typically having a single stem or trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance from the ground. The trees in Elephant Park have a rich history. They are the remaining bodies, forms, structures and walls that were once part of the territory that made up the Haygate estate. They share the stories and lives of the previous 3,000 residents and will bare witness to the arrival of the incoming residents. The Haygate estate was comprised of 1212 homes and 406 trees, and stood on the land that is now Elephant Park. 128 of these trees remain on the sight, lingering on in this rapidly transforming landscape. Those trees with a narrow trunk or an imperfect canopy did not make the cut. Naturally, trees with the highest value were preserved and protected. With a calculated total value of the original 406 trees coming to £21,346,469, the future of each tree relies upon its ability to prove its worth. The well-established trees, that show no signs of imperfections, fetch the same value as the sum offered to some leaseholders for their flats on the Haygate estate. The system being used is known as CAVAT – Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees. This system finds it necessary to objectify trees in order to protect them. It views trees as public assets, placing a value on then in monetary terms. Subjecting them to capitalism, we see a monetary value to be the only ‘true’ sense of value. Through it’s own objectification, the tree gains power and protection. Tirelessly, we question, assess and measure the natural world, trying to file it into boxes and categories. Through our continual deliberation and classification, we forget that these trees are essential to the existence of humanity. They produce the oxygen we breathe, clean the soil we contaminate and the air we pollute.