Sunday 23 May 2021

Susie Mendelsson & Dean Reddick and Dean Reddick & Natalie Low - Urban Bonsais Real and Imagined

Today is the final day of the Exhibition and the last day of the Urban Tree Festival 2021 Urban Tree Festival

Here is an Urban Bonsai that I worked on last week with the participants of our Urban Bonsai workshop. This bonsai is inspired by railway embankments and I have attempted to recreate the feel of a tree lined embankment using a roof ridge tile and a group planting. The moss helps unify the planting and helps hold the soil in place whilst the soil settles and the tree roots begin to grow. This group bonsai will develop over the coming years, with the tree trunks thickening and branches developing. 

Railway Embankment by Dean Reddick

We have two art works to exhibit today. The first is by artist Susie Mendelsson with words by Dean Reddick.

Susan Mendelsson was born at Hackney, London and educated at the Manchester Metropolitan University, gaining a B.A. (hons.) in Graphic Design. She then took a Teaching Diploma in Art from at University of Haifa, Israel and an M.A. in Fine Art from Coventry University. A figurative artist who has been influenced by the German expressionists as well as medieval art and works mainly in paint and mixed media. In her Suffolk studio she creates the most amazing 3D figures and characters often made from found objects.

Dean Reddick is an  art therapist and artist and a founder member of Collect Connect along with Alban, Bryan and Stuart. Art Works (

Excerpt from the Lament of the Entwives

'The Elves began it, waking the trees...'

The Last Elf:        'You are still here then after all of these years?'

Entwives:             'We have survived as some wives do, long into the dwindling 
                                of the forests and woods'
The Last Elf:        'You are so few. What happened to the others?
Entwives:             'Gone, down through time, leaving us alone, our blossom 
                                 untended and our songs unanswered.' 

The Last Elf:        'But what of the Oak, he seemed  so strong?'
Entwives:             'His strength was all stolen to build engines for war, the 
                                mighty, great oak is with us no more'

The Last Elf:        'Then what of the Ash, so stalwart and stately?'
Entwives:             'Ash burned well and fuelled men's greed and kept folk warm 
                                when they were in need.'

The Last Elf:        'Surely not Holly, so prickly and clever'
Entwives:             'Yes even Holly, gone now, forever.' 

The last Elf:         'With so many trees lost it seems sad to go on, I can end the 
                                 great spell and silence your song'
Entwives:             'We refuse your temptation to forget those that are lost. 
                                For now we will hide in the shrubberies and recycled 
                                compost. We will wait to see if the Forests grow back, we will 
                                look for the acorn, the berry, the sap. 
                                We will put forth our flowers, our fruit and our leaves and 
                                keep hope alive deep within all trees.

Our final Urban Bonsai comes from Dean Reddick with words by Natalie Low. 

A rock and a hard place is my favourite spot,

I thrive in surviving where others do not.

Your crack in the pavement is my vein and artery:

My city, your city, inherently part of me.

My limbs are quicksilver, dripping on down.

We’re spreading all over and under this town.

Downtrodden, upended, sidelined and outcast,

I’m making our plans to return to our past.

Too silent to see us, too many to fight us,

We’re gobbling up all your grimy detritus.

Singing along to the car engines’ humming,

So when we do rise up you won't hear us coming.

A big thank you to all our contributors who so generously give Collect Connect their time and expertise. 

And a big thank you to everyone at The Urban Tree Festival. 

See you again next year.


Saturday 22 May 2021

Lesley Cartwright & Ed Arantus and Ann Kopka & Ginny Reddick - Urban Bonsais Real and Imagined

Today is the penultimate day of the Urban Tree Festival and there many talks, activities and blogs to get involved in before the festival ends.  Urban Tree Festival 

Here at Collect Connect we bring you two new art works and two new texts.

Lesley Cartwright and Ed Arantus

Lesley Cartwright was born in Liverpool but later moved to Essex to run a Hostel for homeless teenagers. She made her name in the commercial graphic field and music photography until she developed MS and now paints portraits from her Billericay studio. Cartwright is a multitalented artist who is not bound by genre nor convention. 

Ed Arantus is a conceptual artist and writer. He published his first work in the Censored Zine in 2010 and has exhibited his work ever since at venues like the Contemporary Arts Research Unit in Oxford and the Museum of Futures in Surbiton.

Lesley Cartwright's Urban Bonsais.

Dark comes, Queen of knots
Blowin' spells that blind dub-shot
In the forest, on the rocks
One-night drunk, crazy clocks

Dark comes, double knot
Sleepin' winter rain blew locked
Makin' twisted blizz street gain
Must be lost, hurricane

Dreams baby, snappers rock
Twisted kid, double drop
Jungle tie grind heart blind
Don't unwind your sweet knot

Words by Ed Arantus

Ann Kopka and Ginny Reddick

Ann Kopka is a visual artist and curator. She has exhibited in London, the UK, Denmark, Germany, Italy and the USA and her work is held in private collections in the UK, France, Spain, USA and Australia.

Ann studied Fine Art at Central St Martins College of Art and Design and The City Lit, and Museum Curating at The Tate Modern. She studied The Practices and Debates of Modern Art at the Open University and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree.

Ann is a volunteer project co-ordinator at the Heath Robinson Museum London where she is involved with organising and curating temporary exhibitions. Ann is a member of The Free Painters and Sculptors, an Independent artists’ co-operative and charity.

Ginny is a regular walker in Epping Forest.

Ann Kopka's Urban Bonsai


I hadn’t been in London for long. I was alone in the grey. I wandered and found myself in the under croft, by the river. There were ollies and alley-oops and acid drops.

Then I found a Southbank tree and I actually gave it a hug. (No one does that in Hertfordshire.) The roots reached under the pavement and anchored in London clay.

After that I noticed how they played and fell and played and fell together. (Bailed, they said) They learned caballerials and flips together.

I stayed. I can’t stand on a skateboard while it’s moving. But I’m still here and so is the tree.

Thursday 20 May 2021

Bryan Benge & Natalie Low - Urban Bonsais Real and Imagined

Today we have a video art work from Bryan Benge with words from Natalie Low. 

Bryan is a founder member of Collect Connect and a member of the London Group. 

Natalie is a researcher and a regular and much valued writer for CollectConnect.

The sun shines & shines & shonny-shines 4-ever. Grand-da says “2-shiny sun is trouble.” & he knows, he is dead of 2-big freckles. 

He says "Be-wary bad things inside of good things." I think he talks of things like us. 2-big & shiny smiles, & under-knives. I think it, but now I think no. 

The 2-little tree comes down 1 day from clouds where big gods live, ago. With earth-star light-on light-off & hoots in the air. With shiny bird-call air. With skin like snakes outsides. Only right thing from sky is water. Not a tree, a 2-little tree. 

& most, we see trees from stories & old words. Grand-da says, when small, there are places of only-trees. Only-tree places! We laugh. 

We all ooh-aah, we ooh-aah more-close, 2-close 4 2-little tree now I think. The little 1s go stroke-stroke but we do not stroke things we do not know. More hoots & cries & cries that go from smile to sad. The tree goes crack! & is not 2-little any more but cracks & falls. A-boom big, a-boom big, a-boom more-big. We shout & run & fire-burns from its roots. Up up up it goes, & the fire-burns on us. Up up up it goes. & then it goes. 

& now I feel smiles & tummy-bad both. Grand-da says old trees are friends. So 1 more friend we lose. & I think, I think on his smiling stories. Of things inside things, that are not the thing, but good. How tree arms hold strings & swing him & kick feet to the sky & tree-leaves keep out the sunny-sun & small Grand-da laughs.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Glen Reddick & Simon Tyrrell - Urban Bonsais Real and Imagined


Welcome to the fifth day of the Urban Bonsais exhibition. 
Don't forget to check out what is happening at the Urban Tree Festival  Urban Tree Festival

Today we have a Bonsai art work from  Glen Reddick and words by Simon Tyrrell

Glen  is a keen bonsai grower, a teacher, Leyton Orient fan and expert bird watcher.

Simon  is a writer and artist whose work celebrates the customary language, marks and symbols people have used to present, protect and promote their community and make sense of the relationships, time and space they share. He’s a founder of The Museum of Futures in Surbiton, has exhibited and performed across London and had a handful of works published. He’s participating in emerging collective PoPoGrou and working on a book.

To a town flâneur


What do you know about being small?


I live, don’t you know, to give notice for that very special circumstance

The prancing chancer’s affordable footprint

In an indeferent dance on amenity’s tip toe


An ancient’s survival is no ancestral accident of critical massing

As cheapened days return and metal oblivion’s viability

Through verdant belt, ever-tightened

And countlessly reckoned with soot rings seared in hate’s fearful archive


Pending deity’s deforestation, do I not more resemble the rock on which I grow

Ether-forged in core’s flame, ocean-quenched, prevailing sum of all the real

What do you reckon?


Any time, what do you know of such living

Taking advantage of mine to make yours?

Still through bole, branch and bough I bud, bloom and blossom

Brooking nothing that doesn’t now really matter


But still unhappy you seem with evolution’s regenerative path

So make of me instead a ladder for the two-peaked mountain of Mars

Mind to no inversion and cast not that lessening shade that tips our axis

For there’s no jest in Gemini’s genes conjugating your destiny

Gendered as sisters we are, to foreshadow masculine endings


Do you really not know how I am as much you

And my species was drawn to a scale par excellence?

So, stand by, for I’ve a plan now


On sun’s fresh foliage

Draw near, kneel, hold your ear close

For no faraway whisper of a moon’s assassin

Let me sing instead your salvation


Melanie Honebone & Dean Reddick- Urban Bonsais Real and Imagined

I woke up this morning to read that the Government has revealed its England Tree Action Plan. You can check it out here: England Trees Action Plan 2021 to 2024 - GOV.UK ( 

Friends of the Earth had the following to say about the Plan:

'But following huge public pressure to set a target to restore tree cover, the England Trees Action Plan states that the government will consult the public on a long-term target next year. And although it’s ridiculous to delay given the urgency of the climate and nature emergencies, it at least leaves the door open for a bold binding target next year.
As for the rest of the plan, quite frankly it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. It recycles the old aim to achieve 12% woodland cover by "mid century" (it previously said 2060). And the pledge to plant 7,000 hectares of woodland a year in England by 2024 will leave Scotland and Wales doing all the heavy lifting to achieve the UK’s overall, and inadequate, targets. That's not good news, especially when tree planting programmes in Scotland rely on non-native confers.
So there’s work to do. And when that public consultation launches next year we’ll all need to speak up loud and clear for an ambitious target to restore the right kind of trees in the right places.'
from  Friends of the Earth campaign email

We are pleased to provide you with an art work by Melanie Honebone Melanie Honebone ( and words from Dean Reddick Art Works (

Melanie is a Wales-based fine artist. She often works in series, providing visual responses to external stimuli such as literature, science, and music. Melanie openly describes herself as a ‘renegade arts experimentalist’ and is happy dabbling in anything that pushes her work to the limit and broadens her own potential. A big thank you to Melanie and all our artists and writers for  supporting and contributing to  CollectConnect.

Dean works with Alban and Bryan at CollectConnect and is the author of the Urban Bonsais blogs, an art therapist, writer, editor and artist. 

The virtually stitched hand of the Goddess

flickers, shimmers and skips

with neon-pink-angel-blue skin.

Flexed and overlaid digits

reveal not the command tree in one dimension

but a fledged vein-skein

cabled up, out and round.

Wired Yggdrasill.


Monday 17 May 2021

Bill Mudge & Ginny Reddick - Urban Bonsais Real and Imagined

Our Urban Bonsai today comes from Bill Mudge with words from Ginny Reddick.

Photographer Bill Mudge has been embedded in the creative industries for all of his working life. Starting his journey as a session musician playing piano and organ on London's vibrant jazz scene. He is now one of the go-to photographers for artists, makers, and designers who want to translate their work onto the digital page. Working with fledgling and established creatives, growing businesses and world-renowned artists such as Kendra Haste and John Virtue.

Ginny lives in Walthamstow with her lovely family. She likes to go for walks in Epping Forest.


the grey wave

starts with a path


stubborn roots push

at memories

nuthatch, cabbage white

oak and beech


a faded leaf

relishes the final rays

and weeks

or days


life fights

grey washes

our tree fades

and throws a seed

Chris Brown & Gabriel Burrow - Urban Bonsais Real and Imagined

Today we are pleased to provide an art work by Chris Brown and words by Gabriel Burrow.

Chris Brown is an artist, author, editor and art therapist living amongst skyscrapers and regularly exploring the wilder landscapes of the United Kingdom.

Gabriel is a writer and editor based in London. He recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Leiden University with an MA in Literature and Society. He’s working on various projects, from an audio drama to a novel. He’s also growing his first bonsai.
You find him on Twitter and Instagram as @gabrielburrow

In Case of Emergency:

Smokers’ lungs in office blocks. Every now and again becomes five a day, then twenty; a rainforest of itchy alveoli stained and scarred.

Sometimes sparks start fires. We huff smoke and watch them burn.

We’re going to need more trees.

But it’s never too late to quit. The glass breaks and we gulp great lungfuls of air as the emergency system kicks in.

It, out. Us, in. It, out. Us, in.

We’re going to need more trees.


Sunday 16 May 2021

Alban Low & E. E. Rhodes - Urban Bonsais Real and Imagined

Welcome to day two of the exhibition.

Thank you to Paul Wood from the Urban Tree Festival for introducing the Urban Bonsai workshop yesterday; thanks to Glen Reddick for co hosting the event and to Collect Connect's Bryan Benge for joining in. We will see more of Glen and Bryan's art work in the coming days. Finally a big thank you to everyone who attended the workshop yesterday lunchtime, we look forward to seeing your Urban Bonsai creations next year.

There are many events and activities to get involved in this coming week at the Urban Tree Festival. Visit the website for more details. Urban Tree Festival

Today's art work is by Alban Low and words by Electra Rhodes. 

Alban is the co-founder of Collect Connect and is involved in countless creative projects with artists from all around the world. You can see a selection of Alban's work at and alban low | Sampson Low 

E. E. Rhodes is an archaeologist who accidentally lives in the corner of a small castle in Worcestershire. She writes short prose and poetry, and her work features in a range of anthologies and journals. She tweets @electra_rhodes

When I was small my father had hung a sign in the kitchen that read, ‘Beauty Through Utility’. That was how he lived. Water collection. Solar power. Grow-your-own. An off-the-grid, ‘Good Life’ mentality.

When I was older he planted an edible garden, uprooting the lawn, insisting I learned the basics of propagation and harvesting. It was tiresome. He was haunted by the wartime shortages of his childhood. Unrealistic. Obsessed. We didn’t entirely agree.

After the plague hit he’d written I should come. I had written back promising I would. I’m not sure he ever knew I was on my way. 

*           *           * 

Halfway up the hill I turned left and carried on along the broad suburban street. The houses were fading. The concrete pavements were cracked by unchecked roots and a deep layer of leaf mulch softened my footsteps. 

Outside number 15 the old cherry was heavy with fruit. An overgrown fir almost blocked the front door of my father’s house. 

My key still worked and I clambered over branches to get inside. It still smelled like home. Musty. Bookish. Tired. I locked the door after me. The house was quiet. 

The silence could be overwhelming sometimes. I rarely encountered any animals and I hadn’t heard birdsong for years. 

Up in my childhood bedroom I unlocked the window and looked out over the gardens. Fences were down and a tangle of green erased the old boundaries. Next door, the old swimming pool was full of leaf litter, a small tree growing in one end. They’d been so proud when it was built. My father had thought it was odd to use the space that way, though he’d taken a daily dip in summer. 

I went downstairs, unlocked the back door and navigated the crumbling brick steps. A butterfly floated past and bees drifted amongst the lemon balm. I turned and looked at the house. Maybe I could fix the pipes, mend the solar panels, and make a go of the garden. Even find a few other people. 

Survive. Live. Thrive. 

I took a deep breath, then let it go. I’d come home. 

Friday 14 May 2021

Stella Tripp & Ed Arantus - Urban Bonsais Real and Imagined

Welcome to our latest exhibition as part of the fantastic Urban Tree Festival 2021 Urban Tree Festival 

Trees have been such a feature of  many of our lives during the last year during the lockdowns and social restrictions due to  the Covid pandemic. Walks in the woods and parks, fields and streets have provided much needed relief form the pleasures and demands of digital living and the boredom of restricted social and cultural contact. 

The seeds for this current exhibition were planted during the first lockdown and nurtured over the last 12 months. The concept of Urban Bonsais owes much to our love of the urban trees that surround us and to  trees' ability to adapt and survive, as we have, in difficult and unsympathetic terrain. 

We start today with an art work by Stella Tripp and words by Ed Arantus.

Stella has been a regular exhibitor with us at CollectConnect and we are pleased to open the show with her beautiful watercolour. See more of Stella's art works at:

From my vantage point
Silhouettes are ghosts
Laying flat, crawling in my sleep
From my vantage point
Love is perspective from the real world
A single file tree found like an arrow
Our lines meet in a crack in the distance
Slipping through deepest blue
Rain shadows cover lovers
This lovely grid where our lines
Meet amidst a forlorn landscape
And perhaps you feel it too

Words by Ed Arantus. 

Ed Arantus is a conceptual artist and writer. He published his first work in the Censored Zine in 2010 and has exhibited his work ever since at venues like the Contemporary Arts Research Unit in Oxford and the Museum of Futures in Surbiton.