Forestry England celebrate centenary with Future Forest art installation
As part of its centenary celebrations, Forestry England and Thetford High Lodge collaborated with two renowned artists, Tom Piper MBE and Lisa Wright created a surreal series of life size sculptures that were displayed displayed for a full year in the fabulous Forest setting of Thetford Forest. The custodians of the forest, proudly posed for visitors at High Lodge, Thetford, from September 2019 – September 2020, illustrate the vital role that trees and woodlands play in safeguarding the future of our planet. The youthful sculptures took the form of characters from Classical literature. At Blanc Creative, we’ve been working with the Forestry England Team for over six years, primarily working together to document the Forest Live Concerts with their Professional Music Photography, Creative Video Production and Licensed Drone Filming. Lee Blanchflower, founder of Blanc Creative was approached by Forestry England, with the chance to produce both Future Forest Photography and a series of six Creative Video Productions that would be used as a Legacy Product to digitally create a historical overview of the art installations. The reasoning behind the films were explained by the Director of Forestry England’s Centenary programme;
“This sculpture trail will stop visitors to Thetford Forest in their tracks, both for the beauty of the figures and the drama the installations bring to the landscape. Amid the climate crisis, England’s trees and woodlands have never been so important for people and nature. As our centenary year draws to a close, we want people to pause and consider their role as custodians of our forests, protecting and enhancing them for the next 100 years.”
The Future Forest sculptures were made from bio resins, a greener alternative to traditional plastics due to their high level of plant-based content and the lower level of toxic emissions generated during their production. Taking the form of characters from Classical literature, the custodians embody the spirit of endurance. Something that is classical was created in the past, has survived into the present, and has enough value to endure into the future. This spirit of endurance is something that the forest shares. It too was created in the past, yet is still relevant today. This relevance will only increase as we move into the future: with each day that passes, the role that trees and woodlands play in safeguarding the future of our planet becomes ever more vital.”
The custodians were displayed in a series of structures designed by Tom Piper, who is best known for his installation of almost a million ceramic poppies at the Tower of London in 2014. Each structure was grown out of a different forest landscape – a majestic natural avenue, a ghostly clearing amidst a swathe of dead trees and a forest edge looking out onto a dramatic expanse of open land… Selecting the different landscapes was a difficult process. Artist Tom Piper spoke about the project;
“Our initial site visit to Thetford, on a stunning snowy day, showed the vast range of possible locations in which we could work and the great variety of atmospheres within the forest…. Each location has a very different feel but I hope as a whole they will create a coherent journey. Sometimes they are quoting the more formal relationship of statuary seen at the end of long avenues, and at other moments allowing the surprise encounter at close quarters with a figure in a clearing.”
Each individual element of this project was designed to raise awareness of the fact that resilient though they are, the forests of the future will not be able to survive and prosper unless they are sustainably managed: the responsibility for ensuring that this happens will be carried forward by future generations. In the one hundred years since the founding of the Forestry Commission, now Forestry England, after the First World War, the UK’s forests have grown and prospered. Today Forestry England manages over 1,500 woodlands and forests spread over approximately 250,000 hectares – these range from Northumberland to Cornwall, Shropshire to Norfolk.
FORESTRY ENGLAND – FOREST VENUS
The starting point of our Future Forest Photography and the beginning of the trail itself. Forest Venus is based on the most famous ancient Greek sculpture the Venus de Milo. It stands in a shelter similar to the dens that many visitors to the forest create while exploring.
FOREST ENGLAND – CUPID & HYMEN
This piece celebrates High Lodge’s history of rabbit farming which was essential to the surrounding economy until the early 20th century.
FORESTRY ENGLAND – THE THREE GRACES
These figures peer out of planks which form a structure highlighting climate change.
FORESTRY ENGLAND – MARATHON BOY
Based on ancient Greek sculpture it is placed in a small clearing caused by the disease needle blight.
Overlooking an area of recent tree felling it depicts the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.
DAVID & DAPHNE
Inspired by David and Goliath and the story of Apollo and Daphne it explores the theme of securing the forest’s future.