They are the longest living organism on the planet and essential to life as we know it. But when did you really last look at a tree?
Someone who has had a strong connection with trees for as long as he can remember is renowned photographer, Adrian Houston. Five years ago, increasingly concerned that so many of our indigenous trees are being affected by disease and global warming, he decided to embark on an ambitious project that would give trees a voice. The result is an extraordinary collection of works, collectively entitled A Portrait of the Tree, published by Greenfinch.
Bentley Chairman and CEO, Adrian Hallmark, joins a host of diverse and influential figures, to be referenced within the book. Each was asked the same simple question ‘What is your favourite tree?’
For Adrian Hallmark, the answer was simple. Looking out the window of The Mews in Cheshire, Hallmark is awestruck each time by the large oak tree that graces the paddock in front of the house.
Just a few miles down the road from the historic Bentley factory in Crewe, The Mews sits in the grounds of the Rookery Hall estate (now home to a beautiful hotel), and the property plays host to various Bentley colleague, media and customer events. Rookery Hall’s head gardener believes the stunning oak was planted around 150 years ago. The once 500 acre estate is steeped in history, and the stunning oak - one of a pair standing beside one another – is a striking welcome to visitors arriving via the Rookery Hall hotel drive. The origins of the oak are unknown, but the mystery adds to Adrian Hallmark’s fondness for the tree.
As photographer Adrian Houston toured the country to meet the various chosen favourite trees, he discovered a wealth of fascinating stories enmeshed with these giants of the natural world - some of miraculous survival and others of sheltering royalty, witnessing history or simply of personal grief and renewal.
Houston photographed each tree looking utterly glorious: spotlit by night, bathed in morning sunshine, wreathed in delicate mist or blazing with autumn colour. From the cedars of Highclere Castle to the plane trees of London and from the ancient pine woods of the Scottish Highlands to veteran oaks that have stood witness to time, this stunning celebration bears witness to the might and majesty of the lungs of the earth - the tree.
A Portrait of the Tree is at once a treasure trove of memories, and a testament to the British landscape.
Adrian Houston’s book A Portrait of the Tree, featuring Adrian Hallmark’s favourite oak, was available from 16 September 2021.
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Notes to editors
Bentley Motors is the most sought after luxury car brand in the world. The company’s headquarters in Crewe is home to all of its operations including design, R&D, engineering and production of the company’s three model lines, Bentayga, Continental and Flying Spur. The combination of fine craftsmanship, using skills that have been handed down through generations, alongside engineering expertise and cutting-edge technology is unique to UK luxury car brands such as Bentley. It is also an example of high-value British manufacturing at its best. Bentley employs around 4,000 people at Crewe.