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The Ash Project installs sculptures by Artists Ackroyd and Harvey at White Horse Wood, Maidstone during Ash dieback spread

By KentOnline reporter

Two striking 10m high sculptures of ash trees have been erected as powerful reminder of the peril currently facing the species.

Stripped of their bark and pierced with 10,000 arrows, two trees brought down by the devastating fungal disease ash dieback will now tower over visitors to White Horse Wood off A249 Detling Hill.

Entitled Ash to Ash and commissioned by The Ash Project, it is hoped the artwork will celebrate the species and memorialise the loss of up to 98% of its mature population over the next decade.

New scuplutres, Ash to Ash, created by artists Ackroyd and Harvey at White Horse Wood near Maidstone
New scuplutres, Ash to Ash, created by artists Ackroyd and Harvey at White Horse Wood near Maidstone

Kent has been the hardest hit area of the UK as ash trees are the most common type in the county.

There are around 2.2 billion nationwide with 150 million of those being mature specimens.

The loss will not only cause significant damage to the landscape but will also have a wider impact on the ecosystem as almost 1,000 animals rely on the ash, including 200 invertebrates.

According to the Forestry Commission, the fungus has already caused widespread damage to landscapes across Europe and the ash population of White Horse Wood is now showing signs of acute infection.

Artists Ackroyd and Harvey, who created the new installation, have been making pieces commenting on environmental issues since the early Nineties including History Trees, a project displayed at the Olympic Park in London.

"Ash to Ash is our way of inviting people to connect emotionally with the landscape, to help them find a way of mourning the loss of this tree and the way that it will change the land forever," they said.

"We hope that Ash to Ash becomes part of an urgently needed wake up call for the preservation of tree life generally and the future of the British landscape."

Nick Johannsen, director of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty unit, said: "It is highly unlikely that there will be a cure or that we will prevent the spread of ash dieback, therefore we are passionate about the need to record and celebrate the ash and ash landscapes before they are lost.

"We are thrilled to be working with Ackroyd and Harvey as part of what we hope will be a nationally important body of work to respond to this major environmental issue."

The sculptures will be open for the public to view from October 5.

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