Cedar 2022 – a tree sculpture by Ai Weiwei

In the early spring of 2020, the large blue Atlas cedar tree that had stood in the East Lodge Garden of Downing College for over 170 years had to be taken down. It had succumbed to a disease and had become unsafe. Internationally acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei offered to create a new ’tree’ sculpture from the wood of the felled tree as a gift to Downing College.  The artist’s generosity was supported by a donation from the Howard Foundation, which funded the fabrication of the sculpture in honour of Dr Alan Howard.   The sculpture by Ai Weiwei, named Cedar 2022, now stands in First Court opposite The Heong Gallery.  The Foundation were donors to The Heong Gallery when it was first opened in 2016 so it is very fitting that the tree is now positioned in the courtyard as a permanent artwork for visitors to the college and gallery.

A dedication ceremony was held on 16th May 2023 to unveil a plaque to commemorate both the tree and Dr Alan Howard, recognising his connection with Downing College as alumnus, nutritionist and benefactor. His son and daughter are pictured below.

Jon Howard and Julie Lambert from the Howard Foundation at the dedication ceremony

The tree sculpture was built by Ben King, normally a bespoke furniture maker, according to a design by Ai Weiwei.

See also the Downing College News. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs below were taken by Susan Lintott, Director of The Heong Gallery.

The Blue Atlas Cedar in the East Lodge Garden.
(photo Tim Marshall)
The new tree sculpture Cedar in First Court.
The memorial plaque is on the left.
(photo Tom Povey)
Ai Weiwei standing with the demolished sections of the tree.
Ai Weiwei discusses the creation of the sculpture with wood-worker Ben King
Ben in his workshop assembling the tree sculpture
Ai Weiwei sat on his completed tree sculpture
(photo Wang Fen)

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