AN exhibition celebrating ash trees, their prominence in the Yorkshire Dales and the devastating impact of ash dieback disease opens in Skipton in February.

Ash: A Celebration and a Lament featuring the work of Grassington artists Robert Keep and Mark Butler, opens at the Mill Bridge Gallery, at the top of Skipton High Street, on Friday, February 7, and runs until Wednesday February 29.

Their work explores the presence of the trees in the dales and also looks at the impact of ash dieback now and into the future of the landscape.

Mark’s work focuses on the impact of the disease on the landscape, using gunpowder to create holes in maps of the Yorkshire Dales created by rust printing and ink drawing.

These holes mark the locations of ash trees, giving a strong sense of loss that these majestic trees will leave behind after the full effect of ash dieback is felt.

A few locations are shown in gold leaf, depicting the glimmer of hope that some trees will resist the disease and survive. These drawings are accompanied by a number of sculptures in bronze and rusted steel, exploring elements of the ash and the ash dieback fungus.

Trees have been a recurring subject in Rob’s work over many years, from windswept hawthorn to majestic oaks and apple orchards.

Ash had not featured up until now, and this project provided an opportunity to explore a new subject in detail. Studying the ash revealed its amazing variety and beauty, but also its significance in the local landscape and the devastating impact ash dieback will have on it. Work in pencil, charcoal, ink and paint will be featured.

Ancient semi-natural woodland – the most important type of woodland for biodiversity – covers about one per cent of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. About 80 per cent of this woodland is made up of ash, making it the iconic tree of the Dales.

Both artists hope the exhibition will raise awareness of the disease and the impact it will have on the local landscape.

The exhibition is open Thursdays to Saturdays from 11am to 4pm, from February 7 to February 29 2020, at the Mill Bridge Gallery in Skipton.

There will be a preview evening for the exhibition on Friday February 7 from 6 pm to 8pm, everyone welcome for a chance to see the exhibition and meet both artists.