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Downloading the Woods – The Abbey School

‘Trees don’t make mistakes they just keep on growing’

Downloading the Woods – Field Kit – The Abbey School
Sound Recording – Downloading the Woods

We were really excited to welcome representatives from The Abbey School in Reading, to the Art Department. A range of year groups joined us for an in depth and thoughtful session that explored climate change, tree communication, fungi and creative ways to tell forest and woodland stories. Here, they tell us what the visit meant to them:

On Friday the 27th June 2022, we visited Reading University and found out about a link between science and art. When we arrived in the morning, we found out about trees and the effects that have happened over the years due to global warming. We all found it shocking to see the graphs with data on it showing the increase in Carbon Dioxide over centuries. After the Industrial Revolution, there has been a huge increase in our CO2 emissions and we could see that on the graph as there was a big spike.

Dr Tristan Quaife (Meteorology, University of Reading)

After that talk, we went outside to a small woodland area and investigated the trees. We did a variety of activities such as: mark making on paper against the trees, sketching different parts of the trees, taking lots of photos, and even listening to the sounds that trees make due to their different densities! It was very interesting finding out lots of facts about the trees. For example, I never knew how trees are all linked together under the soil by different types of spores. Overall, it was a very calming experience standing outside and embracing nature as I think we don’t do it often enough. I very much enjoyed learning more about two of my favourite subjects and combining them together. – Chloe UIV

Ready to download the woods!

I really liked going to The University of Reading and looking at the trees and noticing things that we wouldn’t usually notice whilst walking past one. I found mark-making very fun as we got to experiment with different media and looked at the lumps, bumps and imperfections of the trees. The scientist, Dr Tristan Quaife that we talked to was very interesting to listen to and we all learnt some interesting facts. For example England was once 80% forest! Mixing with other year groups was also enjoyable because I talked to people I wouldn’t usually talk to. An interesting thing that one of the girls said was ‘Trees don’t make mistakes they just keep on growing’ I also really enjoyed looking at the art gallery as there were pieces that nobody had seen- we were the first people to see them!

-Ria UIV

Tree shadows

Going to Reading University was a very fun activity to do. I enjoyed how we got to hear a scientist’s perspective on climate change and it made me realise how similar art and science are. It really helped me understand what is happening to the planet and how reading university are trying to change Reading. I really enjoyed doing the bark rubbings and i enjoyed making art out of the things I have found on the floor 

One of my favourite parts was listening to the trees. What you had to do was put your ear on one side of the tree and hit the other side of the tree with a hammer and they all made different sounds somewhere loud and deep and others were higher and sounded more hollow. I also really liked the extra bit at the end when we walked around the exhibition there were all sorts of art my two favourite pieces were, the first one was the one where you had to walk through the tunnel into a painting and my second was one of plants. Esme year 7

Bark rubbing and mark-making with mud

I really enjoyed going to the university. I found it very relaxing to go outside and be able to get out of the classroom, and just do something different. I thought it was very interesting how two things I thought were very different (art and science) are actually quite similar. I loved learning about how science (and even other subjects, such as maths) can cross paths with art. I loved just being able to do whatever we want, and link it with the outdoors.

I liked mixing with other year groups, and getting to know the artistic community at our school more, whilst exploring the nature in the area outside the art studio at Reading University. I really loved that at the end we went to have a look at some of the work the students at the university had made, and found them all really fascinating. They were all very different, and I especially enjoyed it when we were standing inside a painting. There were all sorts of different styles and media used, which made it so exciting to look at. Overall, the experience was really fun, and hopefully, the art scholars can go on more school trips like these. Poppy, UIII

Downloading the Woods – bark rubbing

We visited Reading University with the art scholars. It was such a relaxing and refreshing experience, it was a chance to get outside and learn something new. I loved how there was an interesting contrast between art and science which was used very well. Studying the trees from the nearby forest and thinking about how we could help them speak. It was nice to look at them closely and sketch the detail. – Aria UIII

Natural collage

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