The Christmas CommuniTree stands at the corner of Lower Marsh & Baylis Road, Waterloo, London. We created it in November 2020 in response to a brief from WeAreWaterloo, the local BID, to provide a Christmas Tree for our local community, and the many visitors we welcome to Waterloo, with sustainability at its heart.
The 2020 Christmas CommuniTree carries an important reminder that our shared mission to be more sustainable as a community is now more important than ever, and that our responsibility to our planet continues in both difficult times and festive times. We hope it’s also a joyful, playful statement: puncturing the relentlessness of 2020 with a symbol of a community coming together, a reminder of re-growth and re-use. Like all the items in the Tree, just because we’re down, doesn’t mean we’re out.
The CommuniTree makes a festive treasure from other people’s trash. It’s built from discarded items – broken, worn out, or no longer fit for purpose – intercepted on the way to the tip or donated by their owners. When they become part of the Tree, they are re-adapted and reimagined as something new that everyone can enjoy. It’s a message of renewal from a vibrant community of people committed to making the world more colourful, more fair, more kind – and making sure it’s still here for future generations.
“This year has left us all a little lost, but, inspired by so many who have been forced to change the way they live, work and socialise, we’ll find ways to adapt. Lost will become found, and we’ll keep hold of our optimism; and that’s what the CommuniTree project is about. We want to share some of that exciting, purposeful and fun VAULT Festival energy with the Waterloo community we love so much this winter.”
– Mat, Andy, Rhea & Tom
Surrounding the CommuniTree, onlookers will find QR Codes, each offering an insight into the story behind some of the items in the Tree, revealing their past.
Even if you’re not able to see the Tree in person, you can explore some of the items that have been recycled below. We hope our Christmas CommuniTree gives you inspiration to look at your junk in a different way this festive season, and offers some ideas on how to give long forgotten items in your own home a new lease of life – and a new story!
With sustainability at the heart of the project, we appealed to the local community to donate items that they were going to be thrown away. We received a range of donations from Oasis Academy, Living Space, The Lost Estate, The Vaults and many local residents – as well as reclaiming items that were left on the streets of Waterloo. Our Head of Design, Thomas Kirk Shannon, modified and assembled them into the Tree itself.
Chairs melt into desks, shelves merge with filing cabinets, and doors become unhinged, amongst a selection of second hand books, broken chairs, and a toy Santa Claus. The end result is a decidedly unique festive treat for the eyes.
CommuniTree designed & built by Thomas K Shannon. Items sourced and gathered by Rhea Heath, Mat Burtcher & Andy George, and contributed by the Heritage Arts Company, Oasis Academy, Living Space, The Vaults, WeAreWaterloo and the local Waterloo community.
The CommuniTree was built with funding from WeAreWaterloo as part of their commitment to supporting sustainability and environmentally conscious public art.