Charter for Trees-build a house in a night and the land is yours

Charter for Trees

Owen Griffiths is building a Tŷ Unnos (One-night House) within the National Botanic Garden of Wales to celebrate the launch of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People.
Common Ground are bringing Welsh artist Owen Griffiths to the National Botanic Garden of Wales to create a special one off event that celebrates the Welsh tradition of Tŷ Unnos (one-night house). The building will be constructed in collaboration with volunteers, staff and visitors to the Garden. This new work is being made possible through a unique partnership between The
Woodland Trust, the National Botanic Garden of Wales and environmental art pioneers Common Ground.
Tŷ Unnos is a practice that evolved out of common law. Dating back several hundred years, the law suggests that if you are able to build a house, on common land, with a fire that is smoking from the chimney, in a single night, the land that it stands on was rightfully yours. In the spirit of Tŷ Unnos, Owen will create a temporary structure, shaped by collaboration with the communities who live and work, in and around the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The work will be informed by workshops and engagement and the build will take place on Saturday 16 December 2017, with activities throughout the day.
This project forms part of a season of work commissioned to mark the launch of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People, which takes place on the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest. The Charter of the Forest is the sister document to the Magna Carta and it established rights of access to the royal forests for free men. Owen Griffiths is one of eight artists across the UK who have been commissioned by Woodland Trust and Common Ground to consider the significance of the Charter with regard to ownership, land rights, suffrage and our relationship to our environment.
Owen Griffiths’ project asks what legacy the Charter of the Forest has for people today. Taking inspiration from the original document, he is exploring what its histories say about current social and cultural disconnection from the land we share in Britain. In a climate in which access to affordable housing is out of reach for many people, this new work is a timely reminder of the ways in which people might come together to form new resilient relationships to land and community.

The new Charter for Trees, Woods and People, has been compiled by more than 70 organisations from across multiple sectors to recognise, celebrate and protect the right of the people of the UK to the many benefits brought by trees and woods. Today, our nation’s woods and trees are facing unprecedented pressures from development, pests and diseases and climate change. They risk being neglected, undervalued and forgotten. Now is the time to recognise the importance of trees in our society, celebrate their enormous contribution to our lives and ensure the future is forested with trees.
For more information about the artist residencies visit

About Owen Griffiths
Owen Griffiths is an MFA graduate of the School of Walls and Space at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In 2016 he was awarded Cultural Ambassador for Wales and 2014 was a British Council Fellow. His work is connected to redeveloping a new sense of urban vernacular, community and collaboratively-led research focusing on issues of land, food, social justice and civic design. In 2012 he established Vetch Veg, an edible land project in Swansea as part 2 of Adain Avion, Cultural Olympiad, Wales. Current and ongoing collaborative partners and land project locations include housing associations, HM Prison services, Common Ground, National Museum Wales and the National Botanic Garden of Wales. He is currently the lead artist on the Trebanog project for Artes Mundi, an ambitious project developing a disused building as a new school for social learning. He works and lives in Swansea and is driven by the potential of small nations as authors of big changes. He is also a creative associate of Gentle/Radical, a new, grass-roots, political and cultural organisation based in Wales.
About Common Ground
Common Ground was founded in 1983 by Sue Clifford, Angela King and the writer Roger Deakin to seek imaginative ways to engage people with their local environment. The idea of Local Distinctiveness is at the heart of everything we do, and for the last thirty years we have captured the imagination of people all over the country by creating projects like Apple Day, Parish Maps and New Milestones, all of which continue to inspire our new projects and unearth the strong connections that communities have with the landscape that surrounds them. Now under the directorship of Adrian Cooper, Common Ground has many active projects; from Arcadia a full length feature documentary which premiered at the 2017 London Film festival, to a major retrospective exhibition showcasing archive and new work at the Yorkshire Sculpture park in 2018. Common Ground shares an office and team with the independent publisher Little Toller Books.
About The Woodland Trust
The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife. The Trust has three key aims: To protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable,
restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, planting native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free. Charter for Trees, Woods and People, launched in Lincoln in November 2017. with ambition of the Charter is to secure a brighter future for the nation’s woods and trees; 800 years after Henry lll signed the original Charter of the Forest. For more information about the Tree Charter visit
About the National Botanic Garden of Wales
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is a charity dedicated to the research and cnservation of biodiversity, to sustainability, lifelong learning and the enjoyment of the visitor. Set in the beautiful Carmarthenshire countryside, the Garden is a fascinating blend of the modern and historic. In the Garden visitors will find an inspiring range of themed gardens, the world’s largest single-span glasshouse, a new tropical Butterfly House, play areas and a national nature reserve, all set in a Regency landscape which provides the stage for a packed programme of events and courses throughout the year. The Garden also plays host to a range of outdoor artworks by internationally recognised artworks and they welcome this innovative collaboration with Common Ground and the Woodland Trust to make a new work by Owen Griffiths.


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