Forest on the Edge … where we feel at home

24 May 2017


Where do you feel at home? For many lying on the sofa – cup of tea to hand, is where you feel most at home, for others – lying under an oak tree, or walking through a meadow of wild flowers. Perhaps, like a 9 year old or a bird, you are happiest when perched on the branch of a tree looking down at the world below, or is it sat in the quiet of the library flicking through the newspapers?

“Instinctively, without understanding what’s happening, people know that in certain wild environments, they have come home,” EO Wilson, ecologist.

Exploring the human aspect of a sense of home and the animal sense of home, is the theme of this year’s Forest of Imagination, we are setting out to discover: where we feel at home.

Forest of Imagination was co-founded by Andrew Grant, Bath’s internationally respected architect at Grant Associates, celebrated for his work on the iconic, Garden’s by the Bay in Singapore – recently highlighted on the BBC’s Planet Earth series, narrated by David Attenborough it has since become the BBC’s most watched natural history programme. And Penny Hay, Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University and founder of charity 5x5x5x=creativity, Penny is nationally respected for her work and dedication to bringing art and creativity to the heart of education, whilst placing Bath’s creative energy on the international map.

Forest will discover how humans inhabit both wild and urban spaces and how we can bring the two together.

“We are concerned with the connection between people and nature and this year we are literally taking the city out to the edge and inviting people to discover more about their local and global environment,”  explains Andrew.

This year Forest of Imagination will be at Bushey Norwood, a huge, glorious, meadow grassland area and Iron Age landscape that makes up part of the historic Bath Skyline, and is owned by the National Trust who are supporting the event, and will bring their own home into the fields.

Andrew: “We want to create an engaging and thought provoking series of experiences for all ages but with an emphasis on children and their connection with the natural environment. The project reinforces a renewed interest in the countryside around the city through the Bathscape Project and highlights the importance of engaging people, and especially children, with the experience of nature and outdoor play. The National Trust is a key partner in this year’s event and this project will be a real focus for their own promotion for active engagement of children in the countryside.”

Forest of Imagination 2017 takes this idea of our ‘natural home’ into the unique landscape of Bushey Norwood right on the edge of the city of Bath. This prehistoric meadow landscape, with mature open grown trees surrounded by pockets of woodland and elevated views, has many similarities to the African savannah, often considered the first human habitat/home. This provides the perfect setting to explore the idea of where we feel most at home – in the city or in nature?

The idea of ‘home’ will be explored in a number of ways mixing up representations of our human, urban homes with the natural habitat/homes of the flora and fauna that live on Bushey Norwood. Planet Earth is our wider home and through the imagination of the international artist, Tomas Saraceno, we will also be exploring the importance of our planet atmosphere.

For Forest of Imagination 2017 the intention is to create a trail of unique temporary installations and artworks linking the urban edge of the city of Bath with the prehistoric landscape of Bushey Norwood. Elements of the city will be placed in the countryside whilst aspects of nature are to be placed in the city, allowing the reinterpretation of the relationship of city with nature. At Bushey Norwood we will create a ‘thinking path’ through the landscape connecting a number of distinctive habitats and moments in the landscape. These include a prehistoric farmstead, heritage trees, a dell, a copse, open meadow, scrub and a green tunnel.

Each installation/artwork will be associated with one of these particular urban or natural habitats and linked by the trail through the landscape offering a multi-sensory and memorable experience. Visitor responses to this ‘thinking path’ will be explored and mapped and recorded as part of the Forest of Imagination event. The special nature of the site offers some spaces where specific timber installations, structures, shelters will be made to house artist workshops and making spaces. These will become temporary ‘Houses of Imagination’ within the landscape.

A number of artists and designers are commissioned to deliver the installations/artworks including international, national and local artists alongside local designers and craftspeople, schoolchildren and volunteers. Some projects will be designed and built by Architecture and Engineering students from University of Bath, as well as Art and Design students from Bath Spa University School of Art and Design.

Do make sure you are part of this years Forest of Imagination, 30th June – 2nd July, this event is free and we invite everyone to come and play. #PlayfulBath






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