Call for Sussex volunteers to craft a Tree of Hope

The National Trust’s team at Standen House and Garden are looking for volunteers, from across the country, to join their lockdown community of crafters to create this year’s Winter Tree of Hope.

The South Front and garden at Standen - credit National Trust Images Andrew Butler

The team has previously worked with international artists and designers including Zandra Rhodes, Kaffe Fassett and Mr X Stitch. Now they want your help to create a bright, bold and colourful art installation, which will be displayed this winter to celebrate creativity, joy and – most of all hope – for the future.

Richard Grudzinski, interim general manager, said: “Since 2015 there has been an annual 20-foot contemporary art installation at Standen, the National Trust’s Arts and Crafts house and garden in West Sussex. It has showcased the work of artists whose work embodies the ethos of the Arts and Crafts Movement today.

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“With the country in lockdown the team at Standen want to enlist the nation’s crafters at home to create decorations of joy, which will become this year’s Winter Tree of Hope.

“Lockdown and self-isolation are something we are not used to. It’s a challenging time we are currently living in and this can have an effect on our mental health.

“We know many of our visitors and supporters are missing getting out and about.

“And we also know that handmaking and getting creative is excellent for wellbeing.

“So this is a great way to help keep busy, get creative and join our community of crafters working together to produce a joyful contemporary art installation. While we hope to be open at Christmas we understand that the future is uncertain. If there is a form of lockdown still in place, we’ll share the installation online and it will form the centrepiece for when our visitors then return.”

Kim Jones, visitor experience officer, said the project was accessible to all: “We’re asking people to follow the basic patterns which can be found on our website and create personalised decorations showing what they feel thankful for and their wishes for the future.

“We have patterns for all ages and abilities, from simple woolly Christmas wreaths to embroidery baubles.

“What’s important is that anyone can have a go. Anyone can feel the benefit and rewards of getting creative and have fun making something that will bring so much joy this Christmas.”

The theme for this year’s Winter Tree of Hope is Nature and People.

Richard added: “From Mrs Beale’s beautiful garden to William Morris’ designs in the house, nature is always at the forefront of our minds at Standen.

“We know the benefit that connecting with nature can have on our wellbeing.

“Likewise, our connection and relationship with people is so important.

“That’s why we are asking our community of volunteer crafters to personalise their decorations to reflect the nature which is keeping them positive right now and who they are looking forward to sharing nature with.”

To find out more details about how you can join the Standen lockdown community of crafters visit http://www.nationaltrust/standen. There are full details of how you can get involved and submit your Winter Tree of Hope decorations. Final closing date for submissions is September 1.

Richard added: “Standen is hidden at the end of a quiet Sussex lane with breath-taking views over the High Weald and Weir Wood Reservoir. The design of the house is a monument to the combined genius of architect Philip Webb and his friend William Morris. Celebrated designers of the Arts & Crafts period are represented in the collection, including ceramics by William De Morgan, metalwork by W A S Benson and original Morris & Co decorations.”


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