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Public input invited as sculptor Helen Denerley creates scrap-metal 'Gathering Tree' for Trees for Life rewilding centre


By Lorna Thompson

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THE public will be able to have input in the creation of a scrap-metal tree sculpture being made for Scotland's first rewilding centre.

A 4.5-metre tall "Gathering Tree" is being created out of recycled materials and scrap metals by Strathdon-based sculptor Helen Denerley.

The sculpture will form a focal point at Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, in Glenmoriston, near Loch Ness.

Findhorn-based Trees for Life plans to open the centre in 2023, with the aim to inspire visitors to engage with rewilding.

The Gathering Tree is being created out of materials including ventilation pipes, exhaust pipes, garden chairs, wheelbarrows, polytunnel frames, gates, bicycles and pipework.

Symbolising the connection between humans and nature, the work takes inspiration from Gaelic traditions around the sacredness of trees.

The sculptor is visiting local primary schools today and tomorrow to share plans for the artwork.

Helen and the Trees for Life team will also host a public workshop at Glenmoriston Millenium Hall tonight, from 5.30-7.30pm. People of all ages can offer their suggestions on the wildlife they'd like to see illustrated as part of the sculpture.

Sculptor Helen Denerley is creating a 'Gathering Tree' sculpture for Trees for Life's Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, near Loch Ness. Picture: Grant Anderson.
Sculptor Helen Denerley is creating a 'Gathering Tree' sculpture for Trees for Life's Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, near Loch Ness. Picture: Grant Anderson.
Aberdeenshire-based sculptor Helen Denerley at work. Picture: Grant Anderson.
Aberdeenshire-based sculptor Helen Denerley at work. Picture: Grant Anderson.

Helen and her assistant, Donald Redpath, expect the tree will take a year to complete. Due to its size, the structure is being assembled by hand outside Helen's studio.

The artist is best known in Scotland for her larger-than-life scrap-metal giraffes in Edinburgh. She is renowned for creating natural forms from recycled materials and championing sustainability.

Helen said: "The natural world influences my work on a daily basis, so creating the Gathering Tree for the world's first rewilding centre is an exciting project to be a part of.

"My hope is always to capture a sense of pulsing life within my sculptures.

"My sculptures aren't always whole but are weaved together with scrap metal to create natural forms.

"The negative space, or the space left between the metal, allows the viewer's imagination and interpretation to seep through – bringing the spirit of the sculpture to life and making the Gathering Tree an interactive and engaging experience."

Dundreggan Rewilding Centre director Laurelin Cummins-Fraser said: "The Gathering Tree at the heart of our rewilding centre will be a beautiful acknowledgement of the region's land, language and heritage – and a reminder of the benefits of rewilding for people and communities, and for fixing the nature and climate emergencies.

"The centre will spotlight and support local artists, heritage and creativity. So we're delighted to be partnering with Helen, who is such an inspiring and talented Scottish sculptor.

"We look forward to our visitors seeing her finished sculpture when the doors open."

Trees for Life has been rewilding its 10,000-acre Dundreggan Estate since 2008.



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