Misplaced trust: tripping along with the teddy bears’ picnic, Laura Gascoigne looks at the obvious mismatch of the National Trust and contemporary art

Philippa Lawrence, Barcode: FB184

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. That’s if the woods are Mortimer Forest in Herefordshire, and the surprise hasn’t by now been deliberately spoiled by tree-hugging vigilante forest rangers.

Last spring, RCA graduate Philippa Lawrence took it into her pretty little head to barcode the trunks of selected young oaks in this ancient woodland at a spot called High Vinnalls, conveniently close to the Forestry Commission Car Park. The trees are due to be felled to make hardwood dowelling, a product for which the builders’ merchant barcode is FB184.

Barcode: FB184, organized by Meadow Arts and funded by ACE, is a site-responsive piece (responsive, mind, not merely specific) whose purpose, sayMeadowArts, is to draw “the viewer’s attention to how the individuality of each tree contrasts sharply with the uniformity of the commodity that it becomes”. You may question whether, four centuries after the invention of the sawmill, we need our attention drawn to this fact, but the artist thinks we do. “Hereford is known for