Relics ~ Special Edition Prints


relics-ash        relics-beech        relics-birch

relics-elm        relics-hazel        relics-juniper

relics-lime        relics-oak        relics-pine

relics-sallow        relics-willow        relics-wychelm

Autumn Richardson & Richard Skelton

Relics is a linguistic exploration of the upland environment around Devoke Water in south-west Cumbria. The landscape is a deforested one, but if there are no longer any great expanses of woodland, there are glimpses – ghost-presences in the toponymic and cartographic record:

Birker Fell (birch), Linbeck (lime), Rowantree How (rowan), Storthes (brushwood), Withy Bottom (willow), Woodend & Wood Knotts

If maps and place-names allude to forests within the historical period, soil core samples offer a vivid material record of the environment reaching far back into prehistory. In the 1960s samples from Devoke Water were taken and the embedded pollen grains were analysed, uncovering a fascinating narrative of plant succession over several millennia. Eleven tree genera were identified, as follows:

Alnus, Betula, Coryloid, Fagus, Fraxinus, Juniperus, Pinus, Quercus, Salix, Tilia & Ulmus

The material presented in Relics is a form of salvage; a dredging of the linguistic record for traces of these lost genera. Each of the eleven trees is visually represented by a trunk cross-section: the innermost ring comprising its earliest linguistic form and the outermost its modern-day equivalent.

But unlike the physical certainty of the soil core, the linguistic record is imperfect: the earliest Indo-European word-forms ultimately stem from an extinct ‘proto-language’ – a hypothetical parent tongue reconstructed from subsequent languages that survived into the written age. By comparison, the landscape itself has an immense capacity to ‘remember’; to record its own history.



This special edition of Relics comprises a series of A2-format prints, produced in a numbered and signed edition of seven for the exhibition Memorious Earth: A Longitudinal Study, at Abbot Hall and Blackwell from January 16th to March 14th, 2015.

Prints are available to purchase individually, or as a set, from the Abbot Hall Gallery Shop. Each of the eleven tree genera are represented, with Ulmus featuring as both elm and wych- elm, and Salix as willow and sallow:

Alder (Alnus)
Ash (Fraxinus)
Beech (Fagus)
Elm (Ulmus)
Hazel (Corylus)
Juniper (Juniperus)
Lime (Tilia)
Oak (Quercus)
Pine (Pinus)
Sallow (Salix)
Willow (Salix)
Wych-elm (Ulmus)

Contact Abbot Hall for more details: