John Blandy

Painting of an oak tree in Wytham Woods

Working on site in pastel, he responds to the variable light, moods and weather conditions throughout the year.

Recently Blandy has been pursuing a year-long project as an artist-in-residence under the auspices of the University of Oxford. The Conservator of Wytham Woods, Nigel Fisher commissioned Blandy to follow the progress of a veteran Ash tree throughout the year from May 2019. Previous projects at Wytham Woods include following a Beech tree opposite the Chalet, the oldest Oak tree (the Broad Oak), and a Hornbeam, which stood sentinel at the Gibson Gate entrance.

Blandy’s other projects include a longitudinal study of a lime tree in Queens Park London, ongoing since 1997.; and a forty year project, following Willows on Seacourt Stream in Wytham village. A graduate of the RCA, he is a founder member of The Arborealists. Since 2017 he has exhibited at the Sawmill, Wytham Woods, Oxford; in ‘Identities’ in Corby; in ‘Drawn to London’, Bermondsey Project Space; and with The Arborealists in Sainte-Croix de Loudun, France; the Turbine House Gallery, Reading; and the Young Gallery, Salisbury. Series of this work are in the collections of Hammersmith Hospital and St George’s Hospital, Tooting, and in many private collections.

The paintings of the Ash tree will be displayed at an exhibition at St John’s College, although our original date of September 2020 has had to be postponed, and a new date yet to be confirmed. The Wytham Woods team hopes that the Year in the Life of an Ash exhibition will draw new audiences to the Woods and raise awareness of the impact of Ash Dieback disease, which is currently spreading throughout the country, and will result in the loss of at least 90% of our ash trees.