The pioneering project is based on the findings of research conducted at the University of Derby, which shows art plays an important role in motivating people to act to preserve the
environment by building a sense of ‘nature connectedness’.
Charlie Burrell, co-founder of The Oak Project, said:“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how rapidly change can happen in response to a crisis, and how quickly nature can recover when given space to do so. We need to build upon these glimmers of hope and work to rebalance our relationship with the natural world for the long term, and we’re excited about the role the arts can play within this.”
For the first year the project aims increase nature connectedness, and thereby motivate environmental action, in up to almost half a million people and this will be done by creating work that will dynamically engage the public in exploring their connection with nature; as well as producing vibrant free learning and engagement programme (on site and online) which prompts creative engagement with nature, builds nature connectedness and improves wellbeing and pro-nature behaviours and targeted engagement of hard to reach audiences with poor access to nature and culture.
Clare Lilley, Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Project, said: “The aftershock of the pandemic will be with us for many months, if not years, and the Oak
Project will sit precisely in this period – giving people access to art and nature in a way which will support mental, physical and spiritual health as well as catalysing terrific new projects by practicing artists.”
The name the Oak Project pays hommage to the country’s most renowned native tree which are part of the landscape, art and history and an Oak Project spokesperson said: “As living relics of the ‘wild woods’ they have inspired a sense of awe and mystery for thousands of years.
"Our most renowned native tree – the oak – has for centuries been a symbol of strength and survival. It has been a source of inspiration for culture and folklore since the Druids worshipped in groves of oaks and ancient kings were adorned with crowns of oak leaves.
"The strong role the oak tree plays in our national culture makes it the perfect symbol to catalyse a meaningful and lasting connection between people and nature.”
The Oak Project will launch its first artist commission, to be hosted at Yorkshire Sculpture Project, in late Spring 2021, and will be announced early 2021.