Jan 3 2013 by Caitlin Black, Harrow Observer
THE trees in Pinner’s Memorial Park – and an 18th century watercolourist – are the inspiration for professional artist David Harker’s latest project. Mr Harker, who has lived in Pinner for 15 years, has set out to capture an image of every single tree variety in the park in West End Lane, in either paint or pencil.
“In the last eight years I have been making my artwork in a studio in Pinner,” he said. “The choice of the Pinner Memorial Park as a place to study and produce images of trees for my Species of Trees project is partly based on its familiarity.
“It is a place where I often take a walk and where I sketch and take photographs.
“My knowledge of the particular shape and characteristics of each tree has been built up after much observation and this familiarity helps in developing my drawings of the trees.”
Mr Harker, who gained studied printmaking at the University of Granada in Spain in 2000 and graduated with a fine art degree from the University of Hertfordshire in 2001, was shortlisted for the 2004 Jerwood Drawing Prize – the UK’s leading award in drawing – and reached the second round of the 2011 BP Portrait Award, which is run by the National Portrait Gallery.
His most recent exhibition was held at The Attic at Lines of Pinner in High Street, Pinner, in November last year, when he showcased his latest drawings of the Pinner trees.
Mr Harker said the work of artist Alexander Cozens, a British landscape painter in watercolours, inspired him to continue with this particular theme.
Cozens drew and wrote treatises on the subject of trees, evolving a method in which imaginative drawings of landscapes could be worked up from abstract blots on paper.
“Alexander Cozens produced 32 Species of Trees in 1771, a collection of prints of different species concentrating in a generic way on the shape and skeleton of each,” said Mr Harker.
“My project consists of portraits of particular trees but is influenced by Cozens’s work in the sense that I will aim to produce drawings of 32 different species and at the end of the project produce a catalogue with images and text.
“My trees project at The Attic was a success and my plan is to continue with the project adding to the collection of tree species, particularly those in the Memorial Park.
“To help with my identification of each tree, which is an important aspect of the project, I discovered that Harrow Council produced a tree survey of the park which includes the numbered location of each tree and the Latin name corresponding to that number.
“In engaging in this project, I’ve discovered that tree species are complex in their range and depth, which also makes identifying them an engaging activity and adds a clarity and depth to my drawings. Pinner Park has both trees indigenous to Britain as well as imported species.
“I hope that my project will highlight the importance of maintaining suburban parks which are important from both a community and environmental point of view.”
Two of Mr Harker’s existing drawings, called Magnolia and Scarlet Oak, are based on trees in the park and were on display at The Attic.
He said: “These drawings make space visible, the area around the tree, and also a sense of volume and mass.
“Similar to the landscape imagery, the images appear as fragments taken out of context and out of the traditional pictorial frame while maintaining the formal elements of composition, space and depth which form an image.
“In contrast to the landscape images, the tree images presented as fragments acknowledge Alexander Cozens’s work of classification by drawing attention to the shape and skeleton of particular tree species.”
Once complete, Mr Harker’s project will be showcased in November at the Islington Arts Factory, although he hopes he will be able to exhibit his work somewhere else much earlier.
For more information about Mr Harker and his work, visit www.axisweb.org/artist/davidharker.