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The Last Tree & The Art of Nature In Collaboration with Luke Adam Hawker

Artist Luke Adam Hawker drawing a tree
Artist Luke Adam Hawker drawing a tree | © Alex Leggatt

This year we are collaborating with best-selling author and celebrated nature artist Luke Adam Hawker. The exhibition invites you to discover the beauty of nature through original ink line drawings, prints, illustrations and pages from Hawker’s illustrated book The Last Tree.

27 April to 25 October, 11am – 3.30pm, Exhibition entry is free with usual admission.

The exhibition takes us on a gentle imaginative journey to a world without trees. A world that is in many ways like ours, but where magnificent canopies, tree climbing and leaves rustling in the breeze are now only distant memories. Until a young girl comes along, who is brave, spirited and willing to follow where her imagination takes her. Through Olive's adventures in the world of trees we are reminded of nature's extraordinary power and beauty, and her actions ultimately sow the seeds of new life in her own world.

Luke Adam Hawker said: “I chose to portray a young child as the protagonist of the story because it is often in our childhood that our connection with nature is strongest. The Last Tree holds a message of hope. In a world grappling with environmental challenges, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder if individual efforts matter. However, this book encourages readers to reflect on their personal relationship with nature. It does not demand drastic actions or solutions; instead, it asks us to consider how we feel about nature and how we can improve our connection with it.”

Illustration of child walking through a forest
Time Passed | © Luke Adam Hawker

What to expect

Inside the house, Hawker’s illustrations will be exhibited alongside Mrs Greville’s exquisite Fabergé and art collection. A Cartier objet d’art owl is on show for the first time since it was conserved at the Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio, Knole. It will be displayed alongside rare Renaissance maiolica birds and drawings of trees in the exhibition. It is 81 years since society hostess Dame Margaret Greville left her extraordinary country home Polesden Lacey to the National Trust. Her collections were the height of fashion, reflecting her place in early 20th-century high society. Polesden Lacey is home to the largest group of Fabergé objects in the National Trust, and possibly in any country house collection in the UK.

Through the windows of the gallery rooms of the house is one of the most loved views in Surrey: the picturesque green hillside of Ranmore Common, setting the stage for the mature copper beech trees and oaks, each with their individual characters. Visitors are invited to connect with nature, observing and drawing the trees in the gardens and grounds at Polesden Lacey. Taking the time to be curious, listen to the rustling leaves and feel in the moment with their surroundings.

Faberge Frog, Polesden Lacey National Trust Images David Brunetti.jpg
Faberge frog on display, Polesden Lacey | © David Brunetti

From little acorns to mighty woodlands

Our once vast ancient woodlands now cover just 2.5% of the UK.

At Polesden Lacey, we look after more than 100 special veteran trees and 1,600 acres of protected land. Our woodlands are home to 17 species of endangered bats and some of our most treasured birds such as the song thrush, bullfinch, cuckoo and the elusive hawfinch. Hazel dormice, white admiral butterflies and the very rare bird’s nest orchid are also cared for by our expert team too.

Our work here will ensure that many more children, just like Olive, can learn about the natural world and grow their sense of joy and wonder, as they explore this special place.

Landscape views of Polesden Lacey Estate
Landscape views of the 1,600 estate at Polesden Lacey | © James Dobson

Planning your visit

  • The exhibition is on show upstairs in the house from Saturday 27 April – Friday 25 October 2024. Gardens open from 10am-5pm and the house from 11am – 3.30pm daily.
  • No booking necessary, free event but normal property admission price applies (free for National Trust members).
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities available.
  • Please use the buggie park to place buggies before entering the house, hip carriers are available on request.
  • Cafes located in Dairy courtyard and Stable courtyard with plenty delicious food, both have indoor and outdoor seating area, with plenty of additinal pinic benches in Crab Apple Orchard.
  • If you feel particularly inspired by the exhibition there is an opportunity to purchase The Last Tree book in the gift shop Shop.
  • There is overflow car park availability if the main car park is full. Peak times are usually at the weekends or school holidays between 10am -1pm.
A young child and her mother bending down to look at flowers in the Sunken Garden in May at Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland


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