Performance Action – Felled Birch Procession
On 15 and 16 October 2021 from dawn until dusk a felled tree moved through the streets of Coventry, carried by a group of women in an act of endurance and love for the planet and future generations, mourning the loss of forests and ecosystems around the world and planting seeds of courage.
We bear our collective grief over our loss of the natural world, species, ancient woodlands, as women, as ancestors. We demonstrate courage and vulnerability, creating space for lament, but also inspiring hope, the feeling we are not alone.
Alice, tree carrier, Coventry
What needs to be exchanged and heard under the canopy of a felled tree?
The carried tree stopped at different city locations, chosen by the Walking Forest Coventry women who we supported to curate each ‘under the tree moment’. At each stop one of the tree branches was continuously held by the women.
– A speakers’ corner outside the old council buildings for women to express their hopes and fears
– A site for reflection and mourning at the Cathedral ruins
– Dances of gratitude and celebration outside the Belgrade Theatre
– A climate cafe to share concerns about changing weather and its impact in Coventry and in other parts of the world at Shelton Square
The tree we carried was a birch, felled in Coventry in its prime close to the Heart of England Way to make way for the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link. Woodland pioneers, birch trees are often the first tree species to populate open ground living up to two hundred years and with a folklore including strong associations with loss, renewal and new beginnings. In honouring the death of this tree we held a space to mark the relentless and ongoing destruction of trees and nature around the world.
A map and timetable shared online and with passers by indicated where we would be in the city and the activities that took place.
‘I want to demonstrate that actions speak louder than words. What we are producing is something that is visible to people – offscreen and on the street’
Martina, tree carrier
This post includes a selection of images and will be updated soon with more after this busy end to the year!