Treehouse a hit with families


The National Trust, near Worcester, officially opened a Robert Adam inspired treehouse in its parkland on 25 November 2017.

The launch of the ‘Adam Speaks – Treehouse’ at Croome near Worcester was celebrated with dance, music and poetry.

“At Croome we work directly with audiences through participation to create exciting experiences for our visitors,”

said Rachel Sharpe, National Trust Creative Partnerships Manager, South Worcestershire.

“Working with new talent artists and mentors to help support the next generation of great designers to establish their craft, finding innovative and exciting ways to tell our historic stories. Where better to do this than in a place that’s important enough to be preserved for the nation.

The Adam Speaks project has been our largest to date, working with over 200 people to find ways to make the great Eighteenth Century designer, Robert Adams story relevant to today’s audiences. Participants spent time with Chris Alton, workshopping ideas and the final result is simply stunning.”

To continue the ethos of the 6th Earl of Coventry of using up and coming artists, as he did with ‘Capability’ Brown, the National Trust put out a call to all emerging artists to respond to a brief inspired by, Neo-classical architect, interior and furniture designer Robert Adam. The Long Gallery in the house is Adams’ first complete room design, creating everything from the ceiling, plasterwork, mirrors and chimneypiece to the furniture and decorative grisailles. The aim of the project, supported by Trust New Art, was to find an imaginative way of presenting Croome’s history to visitors.

Chris Alton received the commission from the National Trust after being chosen from 10 shortlisted artists. He ran workshops with groups including The Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, St Barnabas First and Middle School, Writing West Midlands and Kimichi School. Chris was mentored by international artist Hew Locke.

“Leading the workshops with the four participant groups; St. Barnabas CofE First and Middle School, Writing West Midlands, Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts and Kimichi Independent Secondary School has been an incredible experience,”

said artist Chris Alton.

“I've been astounded by the creativity, generosity and curiosity exhibited by the participants. I could never have come up with the idea of a neoclassical treehouse without them.

It's incredibly rare for an emerging artist to be given an opportunity such as this. I've never been commissioned by such a high profile organisation, nor have I had the chance to work at such a large scale. Up until now, I'd been exhibiting my work in spaces the size of the treehouse! I hope that Adam Speaks proves to be a key stepping stone in the development of my artistic practice and thank Croome for taking a chance on me. I encourage them to keep taking risks and supporting emerging artists like myself.”

Stimulated by the workshops he ran with the groups, Chris Alton, finally designed a Robert Adam inspired treehouse creating a new folly in the parkland.

The treehouse wraps around one of the cedar trees which stands proudly at the foot of Church Hill in the ‘Capability’ Brown parkland. Being built at a low level the treehouse accessible to all visitors, including those with impaired mobility, meaning everyone was able to access the structure.

“The Adam Speaks project showed me that things like languages, traditions and buildings that were created in the past are still important now and in the future,”

said Matthew Owen aged 11.

“I didn’t understand this before I took part in the workshop. Now I know I need to get involved in projects like this so people in the future know how important they are too.”

During the day visitors were able to enjoy dance, music and poetry. Over 800 cupcakes where also given out to visitors – in return for them writing their suggestion of what they would like Adam Speaks to be used for in the future on a chalk board.

Poet Kurly McGeachie kept visitors entertained near the treehouse whilst music filled the Long Gallery of the house as the Sixth Form College also performed a selection of musical pieces to visitors. A stunning site specific performance by Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts created especially for the launch took place in the house before moving outside to perform in front of the illuminated treehouse as dusk fell.

To conclude the day the treehouse was officially opened by international artist Hew Locke and Chris Alton who cut the ribbon.

The ‘Adam Speaks – Treehouse’ will be available for visitors to experience in the parkland until November 2018.

Croome is open throughout the year. The park and lakeside are open from 10am until 4.30pm and Croome Court is open from 11am to 4pm every day. Disabled parking nearby.