Walking Forest is a 10-year artwork taking place in sites across the UK exploring links with activism, natural forest networks and communities.
We are inspired by: a call to stand up for the natural world; the energy of a living and life-giving network connecting women Earth Protectors on our doorstep and those around the world; the performative genius of the Suffragettes and the lines from Shakespeare’s Macbeth that conjure Birnam Wood’s ‘moving grove’.
Walking Forest 2020/21
In 2020/21, Walking Forest seeds a network of relationships led by women in the UK and internationally and initiates three site-specific public residencies in South Devon, Coventry and Dalby Forest near Scarborough and a mass participation event scheduled to take place during the COP26 Climate Talks in Glasgow in 2021.
Intentional Forest 2028
Over 100 years ago an arboretum was planted in the midst of the Suffragettes campaign to honour their courage. Together they broke the ground with spades and heeled in the roots of each tree, not knowing whether they would see the trees reach maturity or whether their actions would succeed.
Walking Forest Blog
Performance Action – Felled Birch Procession
On 15 and 16 October 2021 from dawn until dusk a felled tree moved through the streets of Coventry, carried by a group of women in an act of endurance and love for the planet and future generations, mourning the loss of forests and ecosystems around the world and planting seeds of courage.
We draw inspiration from trees and the forest ecosystem, in particular the hidden world beneath the forest floor; creative movements of resistance and change making across the world, and the growing call for rights for nature in our legal system.
Since the project’s inception in 2017, we have travelled our way to COP24 in Poland, held vigils under a huge pine tree planted by Suffragette Rose Lamartine Yates, gathered acorns from a forest floor and walked through London on an activist trail.
The wonder of forest ecosystems and the Suffragette’s incredible use of marketing and branding have inspired us to sketch and gather images since the start of the project.
Inspiration / Research
The women’s suffrage movement in the UK was a long and hard- fought campaign which began in 1866. The campaign sought to win women the vote and ended with the vote for some women in the Representation of the People Act in 1.
We are only beginning to understand the seemingly magical workings of a forest, wherever it might be located. The story is not about individuals, but about a functioning web of relationships.
Global Women Earth Protectors
“To care for the Earth we need to take into account the people, the other creatures that live on the Earth and the long-term impact of our interventions. Ecological solutions that ignore issues of social justice are doomed to fail and we cannot care for the people if we don’t take into account the life-support systems of the Earth that sustain us all.” Starhawk
That a single seed well nurtured can transform into a 100 foot tall tree is a reminder of nature’s infinite almost unimaginable capacity for resilience, restoration and new life. Gifting these symbolic and fertile seeds we could shoot an arrow through time from past to present to future.
The Walking Forest Team
Lucy Neal, Anne-Marie Culhane, Ruth Ben-Tovim, Shelley Castle are the four artists leading Walking Forest and acknowledge the vast inspiration that has come from many sources – human and more-than-human…