Timber from a tree planted by the Duke of Wellington has been carved into a special collection of sculptural vessels by wood artist Eleanor Lakelin for a commission celebrating the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo.
The cedar tree was planted at Kingston Lacy in Dorset, home of the Duke’s friend Henry Bankes, in 1827, having grown from seeds collected from the Lebanon by Henry’s son, William.
William had previously spent time in Wellington’s camp during the Peninsular War c1819-1820, where he amassed a stellar collection of art from retreating French troops, and cemented the family’s friendship with the duke.
The tree formed part of what became an impressive avenue of trees in the gardens at Kingston Lacy, planted by King Edward VII, Prince Charles and Kaiser Wilhelm II, before the Wellington tree had to be felled in 2013.
The timber has now been used by celebrated wood artist Eleanor Lakelin to produce a collection of sculptural vessels using traditional turning and carving techniques with lathes and chisels, to create forms which are contemporary in shape and feel. Work may be sandblasted and bleached to conjure up a world of fossilised landscapes or ebonised to a black colour using a method from the tanning industry – quite fitting in that the Spanish Room has beautifully decorated leather walls.
The carvings are now on display in Kingston Lacy’s Spanish room – home to the Bankes collection of Spanish art – and are available for sale to fund conservation work at Kingston Lacy.
“It’s remarkable to think that a tree planted by the Duke of Wellington lived for so long and that we’re now able to use the timber to raise funds for conservation work at a place he visited many times,” said Andrew McLaughlin, General Manager at Kingston Lacy which is now cared for by the National Trust.
“William Bankes was a connoisseur and commissioner of fantastic works of art, so it’s appropriate that we’ve been able to commission an artist as renowned as Eleanor for this fitting tribute to the Battle of Waterloo.”
A nominee for the prestigious Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize this year, Eleanor Lakelin uses traditional techniques. At the heart of her work handcrafting bowls, vessels and sculptural objects is a passion for natural form and texture, and she maintains a sustainable practice using only wood from trees felled in South London or elsewhere in the British Isles.
More information about Kingston Lacy is available on www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingstonlacy