'Hedgerow Tree, Cherkenleap', photograph by Benjamin Brecknell Turner

'Hedgerow Tree, Cherkenleap', photograph by Benjamin Brecknell Turner

Benjamin Brecknell Turner (1815 - 94)
'Hedgerow Tree, Cherkenleap'
England
Museum no. PH.13-1982
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The figure posing here is probablyTurner himself - the long exposure of perhaps several minutes would have allowed him to take up position. The fence the man leans on has been built in the old-fashioned way with timbers of hand-cleft, rather than machine-sawn, oak following the natural grain of the wood. The ancient trees are heavily cut back or pollarded to promote growth of new, slim branches used perhaps for firewood, brooms or weaving into baskets. Wood from these trees was also probably used to make the fence. Visual interest hinges on the repeated 'V'-shaped forms of the paired trees which echo one another. More than a country scene of ancient oaks and time-honoured rural skills, the implied theme is the cycle of nature, pairings and perhaps companionship. Much open countryside remains at Clerkenleap, a small place with a few houses and petrol station on the A38 just south of Worcester's southern ring road. Whilst the exact location of this photograph has not been identified, there are still many views in the area where the scene remains relatively unchanged to those seen in Turner's photographs.