The Lesnes Hundred is based on artwork of the same name that was commissioned for Estuary 2021 supported by ourselves and London Borough of Bexley.
The Lesnes Hundred celebrates ordinary people who have been ignored by history… teachers; friends; ordinary (or rather extraordinary) people who have done good things without seeking recognition.
From January – May 2021, Eric MacLennan interviewed a hundred members of the public (people of all ages and backgrounds) who came forward to name a tree in Lesnes Abbey Woods after someone important to them… an unsung hero(ine).
One hundred trees have now be named after these extraordinary people. The Lesnes Hundred. A celebration of people. A celebration of trees.
The title of this artwork (and book) – The Lesnes Hundred – gives an acknowledging nod to the ancient name of the area that included Lesnes Abbey Woods which was known in the 1100s as “The Hundred of Little and Lesnes”. A “hundred” is a term used to describe a division of land that was used around a thousand years ago.
The Lesnes Hundred is a socially engaged piece of art offering members of the public the opportunity to name a tree after someone important to them. We’ve always given names to important things in our life, so why not give trees individual names too? Not the names of celebrities or the famous, but the unsung of the community. The people that matter to us.
As well as celebrating our ‘unsung’, The Lesnes Hundred gives focus to the importance of the environment for our future. Named trees are hopefully more cherished. Trees have always been important to us, we need them now, more than ever, to combat the climate crisis, they’ve inspired poets and painters around the world, and they can even improve our happiness. We care about our trees, so by naming them we will show how we value them.
In this book you will be able to read the recorded transcripts (with some additions) from the interviews Eric with the nominees. The first ones took place during the pandemic lockdown and were, by necessity, conducted on zoom. Later they took place on-site at Lesnes Abbey face-toface. The interviews are here gathered in sequential order moving from trees 1-100 as they appear on a walk of the whole site. The compass direction and distance in metres are indicated before each interview to guide you to the appropriate tree! The author says:
“On your armchair journey, I hope you enjoy hearing about these wonderful people who have done good things selflessly, expressed by the kind folk who nominated them. All of these people are like the trees… unsung heroes. Without the trees our life on earth would be unsustainable. They are our lungs.
I hope this experience will encourage you, one day, to make a visit to the actual site and see the one hundred trees. You can download a map from my website to help you find the location of each tree. You can listen to all of the interviews via my Soundcloud (details are on the map). Lesnes Abbey Woods is a remarkable place that will nourish and reward you when you visit. Do take photos, or better still, take a pencil and sketch the trees. Even in Victorian times we were rushing around too fast with cameras – as Ruskin observed – so rather than taking a photograph of a tree, stop and draw it to really see the wondrous living beauty that stands before you.
Happy exploring. Happy observing.”
The book is now available to buy from our shop at £7.50 per copy or with a 33% discount for multiple copies – buy here.
Book Launch Event
The Lesnes Hundred by Eric MacLennan
Published in 2022 by Metal Culture
“On your armchair journey, I hope you enjoy hearing about these wonderful people who have done good things selflessly, expressed by the kind folk who nominated them. All of these people are like the trees… unsung heroes. Without the trees our life on earth would be unsustainable. They are our lungs”.
The book was officially launched at an event for the one hundred participants on 22 October 2022 from 4-6pm at Lesnes Abbey Lodge. The event presented a fantastic opportunity to meet with some of the other participants of the project and even some of the unsung heroes! Eric MacLennan delivered a short talk followed by a Q+A and a book signing. Watercolours and photographs from the project were also on display.