The tree blossomed in Christ Church Gardens on Wednesday 31st March, the day of the heatwave. The Future Machine appeared and we lit up the tree with light boxes made by children from Miss Bird’s class at Mellers Primary School in Nottingham who have been watching as the trees blossom, doing activities to celebrate the Spring and will be leaving messages for the future, on the Future Machine.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions there was a limit on how many people could meet together this year so the gathering was small, the weather had turned from a heatwave to freezing with snowy conditions in the days before. We broadcast live from the gardens (see the short clip above) and a film of the moment will be available soon.
Christ Church Gardens
Ilkeston Rd, Nottingham NG7 3GS.
When This Tree Blossoms… began in 2018
The first event took place when the artists Frank Abbott and Rachel Jacobs followed the blossoming of the cherry trees in Christ Church Gardens across the road from their studios at Primary. They made a short video message inviting people online to watch the blossom and join them when it was agreed the trees had blossomed. By pointing a webcam on the trees they enabled a debate online as people from around the world speculated on the time of blossoming.
Those local people who heard about it finally met together on Sunday 22nd April under the trees, when they were in full blossom, to talk about the future.
When This Tree Blossomed (2019)
We met under the trees on Friday 5th April, 2019 at 7pm and talked about the future of the project and the gardens, marked the date, ate blossom cake and samosas. As the sun went down Frank took a photo and made a film.
The extraordinarily warm winter led to the blossom emerging far earlier, before they had even set up a process of observation. And the horrific circumstances of the terror incident in Christchurch, New Zealand, where Facebook was used to livestream the killing online, soured any thought of an innocent use of remote cameras in public space, particularly called Christ Church.
A few visits to the garden were recorded in Frank Abbott’s garden diaries.
When This Tree Blossomed (2020)
We had been preparing to meet in the gardens with the Future Machine – when the the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown started. As we waited for the trees to blossoms, Frank Abbott created a series of video diaries, documented online here: http://christchurchgardens.whenthefuturecomes.net
These video diaries also provide documentation of Nottingham going into lockdown, as well as the two major storms that hit England in Spring 2020. A ‘building a future machine’ workshop with Mellers Primary School also took place just before the lockdown in preparation for staff and students to join us under the trees. Other local residents, artists and audiences connected to Primary engaged with watching the trees coming into blossom by sending photos of the gardens once lockdown was in place and sharing photos of blossoms they could see from whereever they were in lockdown.
We were unable to meet when the trees fully blossomed in the week of the 27th April because of the lockdown.
When These Leaves Fall (Autumn) 2020
Since we were unable to meet in the Spring, due to Covid-19 and the first lockdown we explored ways we can continue our work in Christ Church Gardens. Frank now does a daily run through the garden, continuing to film the gardens, the cherry tree and this pandemic year.
In November 2020 we made a remote video in Christ Church Gardens, as the leaves fall from the cherry tree as artist Caroline Locke planted a new cherry tree to replace the tree that fell during the extreme weather in March, she rang her Tree Charter bell to celebrate Tree Charter Day, to begin a conversation about tree planting and public spaces. Frank Abbott ran past on his daily run, as the bell was rung, and made a live call to artist Rachel Jacobs, locked down in London with the Future Machine.
Frank left a message for the Future on the Future Machine, live from Christ Church Garden via the remote video link.
What is this ritual or special occasion about?
‘When this tree blossoms…’ involves watching the cherry trees blossom in Christ Church Gardens, sent out on social media and locally through posters and postcards, to invite people to the gardens as a regular annual event. This involves thinking about series of strategies which relate us to the specificities of the space and the community that we are part of which surrounds it, to develop a series of rituals or moments which enable a process of thinking about the future. Narratives will be pursued which aim towards the bringing together of people in terms which avoid the conventions of inner city urban space – issues of access, surveillance, care and control. Rather, we aim to create an emerging curiosity driven approach to this little parcel of land within the city.
Please join the conversation about when the tree is in full blossom and when the time is right to meet by leaving a reply in the comment box below..