The proposal

The Oak Project is a national programme that aims to use arts, culture and creativity to explore our relationship with the natural world and build connection to nature. It will be a national celebration that allows both time to grieve for that which has already been lost, but also celebrates the joy of being within nature, and the opportunity we have to protect and restore that which remains.

Guided by recent research by the University of Derby showing that nature connection is better facilitated by arts-based, sensory and meaningful emotion-based activities, we propose to curate a national programme of high-profile artworks alongside encouraging communities and individuals to use creativity as a means of exploring their relationship with nature. 

We will seek to provide high quality commissions with a range of media and artforms, ranging from the epic to intimate. The focus will be on creating an emotional connection with nature, whilst encouraging discussion and debate. We will also seek to encourage active participation in artwork as much as possible, helping build human connection as well as nature connectedness.

Following the success of a recent pilot, we will also develop a series of short arts-based challenges that encourage people to engage with nature. Our pilot found that even 5-10 minutes a week spent engaging creatively with nature led to a sustained increase in nature connectedness, happiness, and conservation behaviours. 

Why we’re called the “Oak Project”

Ancient trees are part of our landscape, our art and our history. As living relics of the ‘wild woods’ they have inspired a sense of awe and mystery for thousands of years. Our most renowned native tree – the oak – has for centuries been a symbol of strength and survival. It has been a source of inspiration for culture and folklore since the Druids worshipped in groves of oaks and ancient kings were adorned with crowns of oak leaves.   

The strong role the oak tree plays in our national culture makes it the perfect symbol to catalyse a meaningful and lasting connection between people and nature.