My Grandfather’s Tree by Max Lamb
Introduced by Max Lamb
My Grandfather’s Tree was featured on a recent episode of BBC Artsnight presented by Ryan Gander. He was exploring the idea of the creative life in everyday life. In the programme Max Lamb talks about the works he produced using an old Ash tree at his grandfather’s farm in Yorkshire. ‘My Grandfather’s Tree’ by Max Lamb was exhibited at Somerset House during The London Design Festival 2015.
Monckton Walk Farm near North Newbald in Yorkshire is run by my Grandfather. He lives in a cottage that together we converted from an old cattle shed. Next to the cottage there was an enormous ash tree. A proud tree so large it overlooked the 200 acres of farmland, and from where, on a clear day, York Minster could be seen 25 miles away. Alas,the age of the tree began to show and its largest branch had died and begun to rot. For the safety of my Grandfather and the cottage it became necessary to fell the great ash.
I decided I wanted my Grandfather’s tree to survive beyond its rooted life, to offer the tree an afterlife and celebrate the inherent potential of the material within. I wanted the tree to remain integral to the wood. So together with my friend John Turnbull, we dissected the tree from the top downwards, cutting it into sections at regular intervals, respecting natural divisions within the structure such as knots, branches and crotches, which I could transform into finished logs to be used as stools, tables and chairs. I wanted to process each section of the tree as little as possible, other than to make the top and base level in order to give function to the material. Divided into 130 logs laid out on a level surface, in order of diameter, with the 187 annual growth rings clearly visible, the ash tree continues to exist as an ash tree, but with a new life, a new function and the start of a new history.’
Everytime the tree splits it turns into a B or a C and on the underside a signature plate.
Back in October, Rob Penn introduced his book about man’s relationship with ash. To tell the story Rob felled an ash tree not far from Hay, sawn and made into different new products by British artists. The desk at which Rob wrote the book was made from the tree by Andy Dix, a furniture maker based in Hay.