This year (2011), Ullapool is celebrating the life and times of an ancient Worcester shire Black Pear tree which once grew in the grounds of the Old School House, Market Street. Its fruit was a bit on the hard side, but was well-know by local children for its excellent ammunition qualities!
Sadly, the pear tree had to be cut down to make way for much-needed new houses, but memories of the tree and related childhood experiences, are being recorded and interpreted through a series of art and social history activities, including my ambitious attempt to build a pear tree in only eight hours! The workshops took place at an talla solais, Ullapool's art centre and I was helped in this enterprise by a good number of Primary 6 pupils from Ullapool Primary School and a few intrepid adults from the community at large.
First of all, we painted fabric to resemble leaves and attempted to imitate the texture and colour of the curious deep red fruit of the black pear. We also made many metres of 'camoflage bandages, with markings resembling the bark of the tree. We then used an 'Oor Wullie' bucket to stabilise the base of a chicken wire tree trunk
and made branches out of wire too, all of which we wrapped in the 'bark bandages'.
Once we had sewn wire spines to the leaves, we tied them to the branches. We sewed the pear shapes together, stuffed them, then hung them from the branches by ribbon. Last of all, with the aid of fishing line and some hooks in the ceiling, the branches were suspended over the tree trunk and the assembled tree wobbled delightfully. I am still smiling at the memory of that moment!
The tree will be displayed, alongside the drawings and ceramic pears created in the other art workshops, in an exhibition later in the year. We expect it will eventually live in the porch of the public library, where it should raise smiles for years to come.