Public Art Installation: Tree Planting


As a condition of the outline planning consent underpinning the BioMed@Babraham buildings, provision has been made on Campus for the installation of a permanent, publicly accessible artwork, which those on Campus and the local Babraham community, including Campus visitors and members of the public utilising the public footpath running alongside the Campus, can interact with and enjoy.

Commissioned by BioMed Realty, BBSRC has provided the land and Babraham Bioscience Technologies (BBT), who develop and manage the Campus have worked closely with BioMed Realty in collaboration to manage the commissioning and eventual installation of the piece. A Steering Group made up of representatives of the Campus, Local Authority and the Babraham village community has been responsible for the delivery of the project.

As a first step in the installation process, 20 local species fruit trees were planted around the site of the public artwork on Monday 17thFebruary. The trees were sourced from the East of England Orchard Project and included dessert apples, Lord Peckover and Lady Hollendale and a dessert cherry called Summer Sun. Representatives from all the stakeholders involved in the project were invited to attend to plant a tree.

Once the planting was complete, guests returned to Babraham Hall for a well deserved cup of tea and biscuits and an opportunity to spend time with the artist, Tania Kovats and others.

The artwork itself will be installed in March and unveiled in April this year. A second phase of planting will go in once the artwork is in place, which will consist of a variety of low lying plants, chosen both for their abilities to survive the environment but also to provide as long a flowering period as possible for the pollinators.

Members of the Babraham estates team, Patrick, Simon and John had prepared the holes for the 20 trees prior to planting and were on hand to assist as each tree was put in place and dug in. Thank you very much for your assistance gentlemen!

Karen Lewis, Executive Director, Capability and Innovation, BBSRC commented: “The Babraham Research Campus is recognised as one of the best places in the UK to undertake discovery science, start up a company and now also grow companies in spaces like the fantastic BioMed@Babraham buildings.

"However, it’s only got to this point because of all the partnerships that are involved in delivering this ecosystem, which not only includes the organisations and people represented here today, but also the many individual relationships, for example the researchers with the innovators and with the local community. I’m really pleased that we are also bringing art alongside that science and innovation; as a bioscientist it thrills me that this piece has been inspired by nature, by biodiversity and pollinators. So, thank you everyone who has put the time and effort in to get us to this point and I’m really looking forward to planting my tree!”

Tania Kovats, Commissioned Artist added: “I’ve felt incredibly supported by the community here; not least when I was given my tour of the laboratories and saw so much activity and so much attention being given to small things. That made me even more sure that the work I was making was going to reference the small things, the pollinators, those that do a lot of the work which oftentimes goes unnoticed. My other influences were the buoyancy of the Campus, it’s energy and industry and the link with thinking and research as well as the cross over from academia into the applied world. There’s a huge sense of ‘potential’ here. All of that has informed my idea of the ‘hive’. Today is a very symbolic day for the artwork and I’d like to thank you for lending us your time and labour to come and plant the trees.” 

Orestis Tzortzoglou, Development Director, BioMed Realty said: “Thank you to everyone who has gathered here today; it’s a great occasion for all involved and marks a real milestone in this project, which has been underway for the last 18 months. The public art installation forms part of the planning consent for the BioMed@Babraham development; the two new buildings currently being developed at the entrance to the Campus. The installation of the artwork itself will take place in March but very much a part of the overall piece is the importance of the natural landscape, and therefore the reason that we are here today to plant our trees.”


More details about Tania Kovats, the artist commissioned to create the artwork:
Born in 1966, Tania Kovats is an artist concerned with the experience and understanding of landscape. She received an MA from the Royal College of Art in 1990 and has since then exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Her work is present in many major collections as well as existing as significant permanent public commissions.

Primarily a sculptor, in recent years Kovats’ work has responded to what she describes as ‘geologically explicit landscapes’ where the process of gradual transformations like erosion, compression and subsidence are evident. Travel is often central to her work, from Meadow (2007) – the transportation of a complete wildflower meadow by canal boat from Bath to London – to her 2008 journey around South America, exploring the landscape where Darwin first began to develop his evolutionary ideas.

Kovats’ work actively addresses the natural world and, by extension, the changes that are occurring as the result of human activity.


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