History Trees - a self-guided walk

With my photowalks remaining on hold, I’ve put together this self-guided walking tour around the Olympic Park using the ten History Trees, by the artists Ackroyd and Harvey, as markers to the route. The History Trees was a public art commission for the 2012 Games that involved planting ten semi-mature trees at locations that were planned to be future ‘gateways’ into the Park. The trees are all different specimens and at the time of planting were some of the most impressive of the 6000 new trees in the Park. Suspended within the canopy of each tree is a large metal ring, six metres in diameter and weighing 500kg, with text engraved on the inner surface memorialising a history of the site. These rings are substantial and the trees are mainly easy to spot so long as you know where they are located. 

The whole walk is about four miles as the History Trees are largely located around the perimeter of the Park but it works well as two shorter walks too. On this map I have pinpointed each tree and made an anti-clockwise route starting at the Turkish hazel tree (Corylus colurna) on the Hackney Wick edge of the Park. Ackroyd and Harvey list all the different tree specimens on this page along with background information about the commission. As well as visiting the trees, this self-guided walk will lead you past the 2012 Games venues from the Copper Box, Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, the former Athletes’ Village, now East Village and the Velodrome.  

Having photographed the History Trees on my walks around the Park for over five years I know the locations can be at times subject to construction works. The silver lime (Tilia tomentosa) was inaccessible for several years when a section of the Greenway was closed. Access to other trees such as the London plane (Platanus x acerfolia) has also been restricted by post-Olympics construction. Ackroyd and Harvey are often described as artists who work with time-based process and so these photographs, while often showing temporary obstructions, are about a gradual rooting into place. The current Park legacy plan concludes after 25 years in 2037 and it follows that the trees and their gateway settings will both reach maturity at around the same time.  

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