AN ARTIST from St Austell is calling for people across Cornwall to share the locations and stories behind their favourite trees so she can immortalise them in a coffee-table book.

Dedicated tree painter Kate Cambridge lives and works on the Tregrehan estate, one of the Great Gardens of Cornwall with 153 registered Champion Trees - more than any other garden in the South West, and many the tallest of their kind in Great Britain.

Kate was inspired to embark upon her latest project by the controversial felling of the Sycamore Gap tree in Northumberland. “It was so mindless, it fired me up to do something about it,” she said.

“By recording the stories of the trees that people love, I am giving them a value that makes them harder to hurt. It’s like a self-protection mechanism.”

As an example, Kate has painted a sweet chestnut tree seen from her home. “We call it Merlin, in memory of our sausage dog who passed away last year,” she explained.

“Some memories will be poignant, other people will just like a particular tree – and that’s fine. Every tree you see is a piece of artwork by nature – I am just highlighting that.”

Kate paints in acrylics, and works outdoors in all weathers - the wetter, the better. “I love the way the rain blends the colours,” she said.

“I paint in stages, so if it rains for a month, I will start lots of paintings at stage one. Then when the rain stops, I can move onto the next stage.” Even the final varnish is designed to give a “wet look” effect to the finished product.

Kate was one of nine artists-in-residence who took part in last year’s Great Art Auction in Truro’s Lemon Street Market, raising £5,350 for Cornwall Community Foundation.

She specialised in painting trees after discovering the ancient Scandinavian tradition of Guardian Trees during a trip to Norway.

“These trees are considered part of the homestead, the family even,” she said. “They are a symbol of health and wealth. People honour them and give thanks and gifts to them. I think if everyone did that, the world would be a much nicer place.”

Having grown up in London – “a concrete jungle with no nature” – Kate moved to Cornwall eight years ago, settling in the grounds of Tregrehan, the remains of a temperate rainforest and the seat of the Carlyon family since 1565.

“For a tree painter, it was a dream come true,” she said. “I like to think that Champion Trees aren’t a million miles from Guardian Trees - they are historic, majestic and beautiful.”

Send your suggestions and stories to [email protected]