'Ode to the Ash', by Cameron Short, was created in response to the plight of Britain's 'Venus of the woods'...

"On hearing for the first time about Ash Dieback, I felt compelled to celebrate this ancient, native tree - not just for its graceful lines, but for its usefulness over the ages too. Given the tree's uncertain future, it stands at a crossroads. Around it are figures from folklore and times past: a herdsman who carries an ash stick to keep the Evil Eye away from his stock, a country girl who, hoping to meet her true love, keeps an 'even ash' (a leaf with an equal number of leaflets on either side) in her glove, and a woodsman who kneels reverently beneath the tree. There is also a 'gentleman of the road' - a wanderer - who carefully draws around a basking adder with his ash staff (rural folk believed that a circle drawn around a serpent with an ash stick would compel it to stay within the circle, as the ash was inimical to snakes). There is a majestic wagon and a broken-down wheelbarrow too because, as William Cobbett once wrote: 'We could not well have a wagon, a cart, a coach or a wheelbarrow, a plough, a harrow, a spade, an axe or a hammer, if we had no ash.' On the wagon's bed sits a lashed-down throne - ash timber was sometimes used 'to support the thighs of kings'. There is a young coppice worker striding along, an ash pole slung over his shoulder and a billhook in his hand (the handle of which would have been fashioned from ash due to the timber's great strength and elasticity). There is a father, his young son with a club foot riding piggyback, walking towards the tree - ash trees were often cleft asunder by country folk, and their sick children passed through the apertures (held open by wedges) in the hope that such a process would cure them." 

Cameron Short

    Sort by

    Success! Feel free to continue shopping or head to your cart .