A sketch of a tree with no leaves.

See huge drawings of ancient oaks with new exhibition by Mark Frith at the Harley Foundation

Mark Frith: Ancient Oaks will be on show at the Harley Foundation, Nottinghamshire from 20 April until 14 July. This free entry exhibition shows 10 astonishingly detailed pencil drawings of Britain’s ancient oaks. Visitors will marvel at the impressive scale of these 1.5-metre-wide graphite drawings.

At the age of 60 Mark Frith began an ambitious project – to draw 20 of “the most important oak trees in Britain.”

Inspired by a childhood immersed in countryside and woodland, his first portrait was of the Great Oak at Nibley Green, a tree he had explored as a child. This tree portrait took him two months to complete, with the final drawing measuring in at a huge 1.5-metres wide.

For the next four years, Frith travelled the length and breadth of Britain to capture the character of each tree, rendering buds, bark, and branches. His finished tree portraits are not only beautiful, but serve as a record of these enduring oaks.

Visitors to the exhibition can get an up-close look at these meticulously detailed drawings, exploring the distinct character of each tree. The drawings in this exhibition have been generously loaned by the Heart of England Forest Trust, they were last exhibited six years ago.

A highlight of the exhibition is a depiction of Nottinghamshire’s Major Oak. The exhibition may inspire a visit to the Major Oak, which is located in nearby Sherwood Forest, a 15-minute drive from the Harley Foundation.

Lisa Gee, Director of the Harley Foundation, said:

“This exhibition is a testament to our deep connection with trees. From woodland walks to off-grid staycations – our fascination with trees extends beyond childhood tales of enchanted forests. Ash dieback and the recent vandalism of the sycamore gap tree show how much trees matter to us. Mark’s drawings express his profound connection with trees, a connection I believe we can all relate to.”

“Mark Frith’s immaculately presented exhibition continues a long-established landscape tradition of drawings of Trees. Artists such as John Sylva, Sir Antony Van Dyck, Paul Sandby, John Constable and JMW Turner RA are just a few such past artists who have been inspired to draw the trees in the British landscape. This field of artistic aesthetic interest in trees is the very ethos of The Tree Art Gallery where we specialise only in artworks inspired by Trees and Wood and we are delighted to represent Mark Frith.”

– Emmeline Hallmark, Founder and Director of the Tree Art Gallery

Mark Frith: Ancient Oaks is one of four new contemporary exhibitions at the Harley Foundation exploring trees and woodland. Other exhibitions include photography by Paul Hart, paintings by Anthony Whishaw RA and glass by Effie Burns. For more information and press releases on these exhibitions, contact Alexandra Powell e: apowell@harleyfoundation.org.uk.

  • Mark Frith: Ancient Oaks is on show at the Harley Foundation, Nottinghamshire from 20 April – 14 July 2024.
  • The exhibition is free to enter and there is a large, free car park.
  • The Gallery is open Tuesday – Sunday. Please check www.harleyfoundation.org.uk for opening times.
  • The Harley Foundation is on the Welbeck estate, on the A60 south of Worksop. It is 15 minutes from both the A1 and M1.


Posted on 30 January 2024

Back to the News page

Featured author

Featured author

Jack Woolley