About Us

The Radicle Sisters

Walking Forest is a 10 year project led by artists Shelley Castle, Anne-Marie Culhane, Lucy Neal and Ruth Ben-Tovim with a team of collaborators. It started in 2018 with the collecting of seeds from a 110-year-old tree planted by the Suffragettes, and culminates in 2028 with the planting of an intentional woodland, a living artwork made up of trees that honour women activists and their stories and provides a space for reflection, grief, courage, cultural and ecological regeneration. Walking Forest is exploring links between local UK based and global Earth Defenders, researching and drawing wisdom from forest networks and connecting with artists and communities across the world. We are co-creating online and live events, intimate one to one seed gifting performances and large–scale performative actions involving hundreds of people.

‘Seeds of hope, imagination and grit were planted in me. These seeds were needed to bring big dreams to life. We helped them to grow into action on a poignant journey that I will cherish forever.’

Melissa Smith
Walking Forest Coventry
camp and performance participant

During the inception of Walking Forest, we discovered that the Suffragettes planted trees, creating an arboretum in Batheaston near Bath, Somerset, to honour acts of individual courage and to inspire onward action. These trees were bulldozed to create a housing estate in the 1960s, however one tree still stands today: a magnificent 110-year-old Austrian Pine, planted by activist Rose Lamartine Yates.

This tree – the last remaining tree of the Suffragettes Arboretum – has become a touchstone of Walking Forest. These seeds are a symbol of courage, intention, sacrifice and survival against many odds, which we have been collecting and gifting to today’s Earth Defenders. We have also been successfully propogating its seeds, towards the culmination of this artwork: the creation of our intentional woodland in 2028.

We look back to the collective actions of the Suffragettes 100 years ago who stood for radical democratic change for women. And we look forward to the next 100 years and how the natural world can be brought into the political frame. What would it be like to stand up for the well-being of the Earth?

‘we are here because you were there and are still there now’

Loraine Masiya Mponela
Walking Forest Coventry
camp and performance participant

The seed of our story

The project grew roots in a series of creative workshops between the 4 lead artists in Dartington, Devon in 2016, under the umbrella of Encounters Arts, with funds from the Arts Council Elevate Programme, bringing together each artist’s existing and shared commitment to climate, ecological and social justice and a creative practice that involves community participation.

Sketching, reading, walking and plotting together helped us focus the shape of Walking Forest as a project – whatever happened next would be out of doors, located on the land and involve trees and many people.

Our work is storied by places and participants we encounter on the journey  – shaping and co-designing Walking Forest as we move forward together.

‘We are on Earth to be pollinators, we carry seeds’

Robin Harford