‘..we travelled to COP (the 24th UN ‘Conference of the Parties’ Climate Talks ) as artists with Encounters’ Walking Forest for a singular, simple purpose: to gift to people the seed of a tree planted by a Suffragette, Rose Lamartine Yates from the Suffragette Arboretum at Batheaston in England. Planted over 100 years ago, Rose’s tree, a magnificent Austrian Pine – which with care, could live another 400 years – is now the last standing tree: all others were demolished to build a housing estate in the 1960s.

Something quite precise shifted in our moment of encounter, as though the air slowed down, settled and clarified. Bringing into the vast COP venue, a seed from the natural world, with an immense and significant history, we made space for stillness, connection, radical hope and heart. In the quiet exchange there was warmth, love, pain, grace, vulnerability, softness, resilience and childlikeness. We felt deep gratitude for the work our ‘giftees’ were doing there, whilst acknowledging grief for the need of it.

We return emboldened. The seed is tiny, its possibilities are immense. As is the role of maker, creator, artist and designer at this extraordinary moment in the Earth’s story. Trickster-like, we cut across existing paths to disrupt and surprise, opening space to connect differently.

The UK has lodged the request to host COP in the UK in 2020. We anticipate artists, activists, trees, women and children, playing their part in how we bind – and gift – ourselves to the restoration of a liveable world.’

Words by Lucy Neal – to see full text visit: