Custodians at Dalby Forest

Custodians by Layla Khoo, 2021

“Custodians” is an evolving installation, inspired by the history that the Forestry Commission is charged with preserving, and the future they plan to protect beyond their own lifetimes.

Life-sized porcelain rabbits are placed in an otherwise unseen man-made rabbit warren, of sufficient historical importance to be listed as a scheduled monument, and yet lost to most visitors as part of the forest floor. These other-worldly white rabbits gaze upwards at viewers, their eyes silvery and reflecting the light shining down on them, highlighting the history of this land. The future of the site will be marked with sapling yew trees planted around its perimeter, an evolving feature with its own folklore connotations of death and rebirth, which will only come into fruition years after the sculptures have gone.

The history of the site

This man made warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and skins, the tradition dating from the 12th century. Most traces of post-medieval warrening have been swept away by later land-use changes. Today those remains in Dalby and the adjacent forests are virtually all that are known to survive in north eastern England.

Location and Visitor Information

How to find Custodians

Adderstone is approx. 5 miles in to the forest from the visitor centre. From the furthest end from the entrance to the Dixon’s Hollow car park you can cross the road at the marked area and follow the gravel footpath into the woodland to the sculpture.

Click here for the what3words location.

Artist Biography

Layla Khoo is a multimedia 3D artist, specialising in ceramics and site-specific installations. Her work is responsive – responding to ideas, events or collections of objects. She is particularly interested in creating participatory artworks to further engage audiences in the narratives she works with.

Khoo has previously worked with collections within the National Trust, Historic England, independent museums and with wider communities. She is currently working on a practice based PhD with University of Leeds and Hardwick Hall to research the impact of participatory contemporary art on visitor engagement with heritage narratives.

Useful Information

Dalby Forest, Dalby Forest Visitors Centre, Low Dalby, Thornton-Le-Dale, Pickering, YO18 7LT
Open every day, the sculpture is outdoors, accessed via a wheelchair accessible footpath.
Adderstone (disability accessible) or Dixon’s Hollow
Nearest trail: Adderstone Rigg walking trail or Nissen Trail
what3words: ///bounding.interacts.blitz
Art Map reference: Number 9