The Turbine house at Blake’s Lock, part of Reading museum and next door to Bel and the Dragon, is worth a visit on its own; it’s a lovely spot and I could easily gaze out the windows at the waters of the Kennet flowing over the Borough weir.

There is now good reason to look inside at the work of the Arborealists, a collective of artists whose works features trees: The Art of Trees. The Arborealists have also invited local artists to display their work alongside their own.

When I went, just after it opened, I was met by two volunteers from Reading Tree Wardens who have initiated the exhibition. Two Reading names whose work I noted are Peter Driver and Geoff Sawers.

Fortunately, the venue was quiet apart from the rushing of the water, which had risen noticeably after the recent rain. This allowed me the luxury of walking round each of the works and choosing which ones I’d like to spend more time appreciating. Almost all of them were worth my attention, but sadly I had time to dwell on only a handful.

Fagus I. © Buckmaster & French

Fagus I by Emma Buckmaster and Janet French is an exquisite etching on beech leaves.

Alders Reflected in the Dart. © Paul Newman

Alders Reflected in the Dart by Paul Newman is a similar sized monochrome work of a scene by a river. The detail is captivating and it really does deserve careful study to appreciate it.

The works are mostly small and don’t dominate the gallery space. However, in such an intimate place, and especially if you have time and are undisturbed, it pays to take a while to appreciate these works. The skill to create them is pretty remarkable. The depth of mood and sense of place in each painting perhaps even more so.

Blue Oak. © Paul Ridyard

The placing is good. The one painting that deserves study from a distance, and adds the most significant impact on the space is perfectly placed to do just that. The remainder all benefit from their hanging where you can absorb them or be absorbed by them.

I place a great deal of value in enjoying trees. These works get close to the real thing if you take the trouble to study them carefully. If you don’t get out much and want to enjoy a tree in your home, many of these exhibits are for sale, and quite reasonably priced, I thought.

Linda Edwards, Reading Tree Warden, at the Turbine House. Image: (c) Adrian Lawson

Volunteers from Reading Tree Wardens staff the exhibition and there are leaflets of the various tree walks they have developed to encourage you out to enjoy some real trees once you’ve been inspired.

The exhibition runs till 24 June. Entry is free and the gallery opens from 10am until 6pm each day.

  1. The Arborealists and Guests: the Art of the Tree
  2. Blake’s Lock Museum
  3. The Arborealists
  4. Reading Tree Wardens
  5. Buckmaster and French
  6. Paul Newman
  7. Paul Ridyard