Jan Martinec & Clemens Wilhelm

80 min | 2021

Planting a Weeping Willow on Brexit Day in Scotland

On Brexit Day, a Weeping Willow is planted in the rural town of Huntly, Scotland. This Brexit Tree is a communal art project which causes quite a controversy in the media as well as in the town. 75 national newspapers pick up the story which triggers a long social media debate. Initiated by Deveron Projects and visiting artist Clemens Wilhelm (Berlin) the project dives into the depths of the Brexit conflict. Just like Brexit itself, the planting is postponed three times, and the year-long process mirrors the divisions, troubles and hopes in the Pre-Brexit era. This paradoxical Weeping Willow symbolizes loss and sorrow, but also healing and rebirth. Since the Middle Ages, Weeping Willows are associated with loss and sorrow in Europe, but in China, where these trees originated, they are seen as trees of youth, strength and regeneration. Willows in general are seen as healing trees in many cultures, as their bark contains the basis for Aspirin. Will the Remainers and Brexiteers welcome this Brexit Tree on the banks of the River Deveron? This film follows the fault lines that run through Huntly which appears as a miniature UK. Huntly residents voice their views on Brexit and Scottish independence. What is the role of social media in Brexit? What does the future hold for Huntly? Will the Brexit Tree survive?


Director’s statement Jan Martinec & Clemens Wilhelm

As EU citizens and frequent visitors to the UK, we felt the need to observe Brexit from the inside. We wanted to learn more about the internal workings of Brexit, about the deeper motivations and the underlying causes, and to capture this crucial historical moment for the future. We found in Huntly a rich field for sociological research and a welcoming community prepared to speak its mind. The year-long process of Brexit was mirrored in the making of this film: together with the Huntly residents, we faced long stretches of political uncertainties and delays, and the making involved a lot of back and forth on many levels. Brexit is still not over – and it will keep us in suspense for years to come. It is a revealing symptom of our time – a case study of the age of social media- engineered opinions and politics. Brexit is not an island – it is connected to all of us. We are still pondering the question: What is more important? Independence or stability?


THE BREXIT TREE is premiered on 4th of February 2021 on the Alchemy Film & Arts online channel.



Directed & Produced by Jan Martinec & Clemens Wilhelm
Narrator: Jan Martinec
Editor: Carla Morelli
Sound: Tobias Böhm, bvft
Camera: Jan Martinec
Color: Ming Xiaoxi
Drone Operator: Alejandro Lopez
Title Design: Franz Reimer

Robert Singer | Artist | Huntly & Ayrshire
Lily Kamp | University Student | Huntly & Glasgow
David Ward | Composer | Huntly
Lena Sierakowska | Nordic Ski Center | Huntly
Kerry Wright | Bartender | Huntly
Petra Pennington | Art & Community Worker Deveron Projects | Huntly
Claudia Zeiske | Founding Director of Deveron Projects | Huntly
Dave Whitehead | Joiner | Huntly
Manick Govinda | Arts Consultant & Founder of Artists For Brexit | London
David Foubister | Software Consultant | Huntly
Trisha Mandal | Erasmus Intern | Huntly
Conrad Lee | University Student | Huntly & Aberystwyth

Project Production:
Clemens Wilhelm & Deveron Projects Dec 2018 – Jan 2020
Deveron Projects:
Director: Claudia Zeiske
Producers: Petra Pennington & Robyn Wolsey
Team: Lauren Campbell, Rhian Davies, Will Gore, Laura Henry, Kawther Luay, Trisha Mandal, Natasha Natarajan, Alix Rothnie, John Sergison, Patrick Tumelty, Zeynep Yildiz
The Tree Stewards: Gordon Boyd, Steve Brown, Fiona Murray, David Simpson, Freya Wilson, Lindy Young
 Forester: Steve Brown
Joiner: Dave Whitehead
Stone Mason: Richard Collinson, Fyfe Glenrock
Landscaping: Allen G Morrison Builders
Press Connection: Lesley Booth

The Project THE BREXIT TREE was produced by Deveron Projects (Huntly, UK) and was supported by Aberdeenshire Council, Creative Scotland, Goethe Institut & Stiftung Kunstfonds

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