Ash Keys to the Future

Schools Programme

Outdoor Studios are working on The Ash Project with schools across Kent to create memories of ash. We are working with students for a half day in schools and then a full day in woodlands. Over the two days we will create a series of chalk ink and charcoal drawings to be carved into ash block prints and will explore the specific words used to describe the tree and it’s timber.

During the day spent in a local woodland we will map the environment with drawings and language. Then through practical workshops with ash timber we will explore the trees particular properties and place it in the art and culture of our past. We shall look at the future challenges facing ash trees in our landscape and reflect on our hopes for the future.

Take Part

We have selected six schools to work with on the 2017 programme and we will offer workshops to nine rural schools in Kent over 2018. If you would like to participate please email Outdoor Studios on

If you are a trainee teacher and would like some experience volunteering with Outdoor Studios, please get in touch. All volunteers will need to have passed their DBS checks.

Ash tree

What is an ash tree?

  1. Ash trees are tall, often growing to 35m. The Latin name for ash is Fraxinus Excelsior and excelsior means higher
  2. They bud in April and May and their leaves are green
  3. The seeds of ash trees are often called keys and they are shaped like a propeller, if you pick a handful of single keys and drop them you can watch them spin to the ground
  4. Ash trees have velvety black buds, in winter the wind in the trees causes the branches to make a distinctive clacking sound

Five facts about ash

  1. Ancient Egyptians imported ash from Europe as long ago as 2000BC to make wheels
  2. Ash trees are under threat from ash dieback
  3. Bats, lichen, liverworts and blue tits all rely on ash trees for their homes
  4. Ash timber was an important material for making a variety of objects from tool handles to aeroplane propellers
  5. Ash trees can live to a grand old age of 400 years, especially if they are coppiced

Ash block print. Photo: Outdoor Studios

Outdoor Studios

The artists’ collective Outdoor Studios came together through Stour Valley Arts, an arts organisation based in King’s Wood in Kent that enabled people to explore contemporary art within an ancient woodland setting. For 20 years, the Stour Valley Arts Learning programme offered creative workshops in Kent with broad themes of time, place, life, decay and regeneration through exploration of the natural materials and forest landscape. These unique learning opportunities are now available through the collective expertise of the artists of Outdoor Studios, who all have extensive experience of delivering Art workshops in Kent that connect groups to natural and urban environments across a range of arts disciplines. They are printmakers, painters, writers, textile artists, photographers, film-makers, sculptors, craftspeople, ceramicists, and sound artists.