Nine Elms celebrates historic trees with winter lights installation

Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

This winter Nine Elms will come alive with tree illuminations as internationally acclaimed artist Jony Easterby projects beautifully animated elm tree illustrations onto buildings at nine locations across the area.

Share this

Illuminations: Elm trees to light up buildings in Nine Elms

Running from 13-21 December, the large-scale light installations are a festive spectacle suitable for all ages and free of charge to visit.

Light Up Nine Elms has been specially commissioned to show the area in a new light and celebrate the long history of the area’s trees on Nine Elms Lane, SW8. The project will use residential blocks, construction sites and public plazas as the canvas for the after-dark artwork.

The Nine Elms place name has been traced back to the 17th Century and nine elm trees were known to be standing on Nine Elms Lane in the 1840s. The row of elms are thought to have been replanted several times since then. In January 2019, the Nine Elms community re-planted the last two elm trees which had been missing since one tree was blown down in a storm and one was felled due to disease.

The winter lights installation once again puts Nine Elms on the cultural map with a unique way to interact with nature and heritage in a busy riverside location. Visitors and residents can take a trail around the artworks to see the varied architecture of Nine Elms and get together with friends or family after work or after school, to celebrate the winter season.

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council said: “Translating our historic nine elm trees into light projections is a fantastic celebration of this part of Wandsworth as it grows into a new central London destination.

“We’re proud to have been able to host this wonderful winter light installation on buildings old and new, so I do hope that as many residents as possible get the opportunity to see the beautiful illustrations.

“Rooted in our local community, these elm trees have been a landmark for generations so we’re delighted to welcome visitors to see the illuminations and discover more about Nine Elms.”

Artist Pippa Taylor, who hand-drew the nine elm trees said: “My inspiration comes from the beauty of nature and the deep sadness that comes with it - as in these times we can’t take this beauty for granted anymore. The drawing process for me is always accompanied with music, when drawing the nine elms the structure and character of traditional Irish music played into their creation.

“I work with a very fine pen, to ensure the drawings can withstand the enlargement of scale for the monumental projections. I have to enter this space of intense stillness where no mistake is possible. My inspiration comes from both the simplicity and form of Japanese paintings of trees, their execution and simplicity of the line as well as the rich history of botanical illustration from c18th etchings.

“I love the fact that from the starting point of my drawing in the studio, through Jony’s digital animations and projections, I can share my joy in the detail and beauty of the tree with thousands of people.”

Artist Jony Easterby, who created the illuminations, said: “As a child in the 1970s I was only vaguely aware of the disease that ravaged the elms throughout UK and Europe. Once a common tree of hedge and field it is almost incomprehensible that this iconic tree is almost extinct in the UK.

“The elms of Nine Elms are a testament to natures resilience and a symbol of hope that we can rebuild ecologies that face extinction through human knowledge and perseverance. The symbolism of these elm trees at this time in our ecological crisis has never been so important as we face new complex challenges to our arboricultural heritage and ecosystems.

“This project allows us to create new connections between hand drawn and digital arts, the concrete and the organic, as well as highlighting the essential role that trees must play in all our lives for our survival on this planet which we share.”

Find out more on the Nine Elms website

Winter lights: Artist Jony Easterby will project trees onto buildings