Campaigners pull 'April Fool' on council with tree exhibition in Winter Garden

The artwork on trees in the Winter Garden.

The artwork on trees in the Winter Garden.

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Tree campaigners have staged their own April Fool by putting artwork lampooning Sheffield Council on display in the Winter Garden.

An exhibition of amateur work was this morning replaced by cartoons and satirical works by city artists including Pete McKee, James Whitworth and Lydia Monks.

Visitors browse the exhibition.

Visitors browse the exhibition.

The pieces on show in the council-run building focus on the felling and replacement of trees as part of the council's ongoing Streets Ahead project.

Creator Paul Brooke booked the exhibition under the fictitious Meersbrook Community Arts Club name.

“The purpose is to raise awareness of the destruction of Sheffield's street tree heritage and the failure of the council to read and understand contracts, by using satirical art," said Paul.

"We submitted information with our application that clearly stated that the ‘art club’ was fictitious, but evidently the council did not read the contract.

Some of the art on show.

Some of the art on show.

"This reflects one of the concerns many residents have about Sheffield Council's oversight of the Streets Ahead PFI contract with Amey”.

Campaigners have repeatedly criticised council leader Julie Dore and cabinet member for the environment Bryan Lodge for not reading the full Streets Ahead contract.

During the first four days of the exhibition, works donated by collaborating amateur artists were exhibited in the Winter Gardens.

Supporting descriptions of the artworks were ‘redacted’. The point was to highlight how parts of the Streets Ahead contract have been blacked out when released to the public.

“We wanted to highlight that if you are not ‘open and transparent’ eventually the truth will out," said Paul.

One of the artworks on show today looks at the council's household survey on tree felling.

“Coun Lodge says the vast majority of residents agree with the proposed fellings or are indifferent," said Paul.

“When the figures are examined it turns out that less than one per cent of Sheffield’s households actually agreed - a tiny proportion of residents."

Sheffield cartoonist James Whitworth donated a cartoon showing bats in a tree as ‘flying pickets’ in reference to the 14 people arrested under anti trade union laws during the protests.

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