On an empty concrete terrace at the back of the Tate is a cluster of trees, and while it looks like a sad transplant from a garden centre, it’s actually art.
Supposedly a “response to the climate emergency” by the artists Ackroyd & Harvey, each tree was grown from an acorn harvested from a forest of 7,000 oaks planted in Germany in the 1980s as an urban greening project.
These 100 young trees have been placed here next to the Tate as art.
However, unless you knew it was art, you’d just assume this was a cluster of trees waiting to be sold at the local garden centre. It’s beyond bland as a display.
It’s supposed to be environmental, and eco-friendly, but it’s ended up looking like a dystopian future where the earth has been blasted into a desiccated landscape and the only way plants can survive is if placed in protective pots above the wasted land and fed precious water dripping from a network of thin pipes.
A rich man’s paradise in the future where a small cluster of precious trees are clustered together in a pallid impression of the forests that are now a long-forgotten memory.
In a way, that is an environmental message, that the earth can be destroyed and we should protect what we have, but it’s very different from the message the artists were trying to send.
I have never seen a cluster of trees looking so utterly depressing.