The Forestry Commission unveils major new art commission at Suffolk’s Thetford Forest to celebrate 100 years of forestry
As part of its centenary celebrations, The Forestry Commission has worked with artists Tom Piper MBE and Lisa Wright on a dramatic sculptural installation for Suffolk’s High Lodge in Thetford Forest. Future Forest features ten life size figures, based on Classical motifs, placed within the landscape, representing custodians of the past looking over our forests. They act as a poignant reflection of the vital role that trees and woodlands play in protecting our natural environment and the next generation’s role as custodians of our future forests.
PK Khaira Creswell, Director of the Forestry Commission’s centenary programme, said ‘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, helping us to protect and enhance them for the next 100 years.’
Lisa Wright’s life-size sculptures take the form of Classical figures including Venus de Milo, the Three Graces, David, Hyman, Cupid and Daphne. These figures are made from bio resin, a greener alternative to traditional plastics due to its high level of plant based content and lower toxic emissions during the production process. Through their Classical character, these beautiful and youthful figures reflect the spirit of endurance that is embodied by forests: rooted in the past, relevant in the present and essential to our survival into the future.
The custodians will be displayed in a series of six dramatic installations within the forest developed by Tom Piper, best known for the poppy installation he designed for the WW1 centenary commemoration, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which was first installed at the Tower of London in 2014 and was seen by millions of people across the UK.
Working in a forest environment for the first time, Piper’s innovative backdrops will form the settings within which the figures will be placed. Piper’s work will set the scene, starting a journey which visitors to the installation are encouraged to explore: the future of our forests, and their role within it.
Describing his work, Tom Piper said, ‘Each setting provides a stage for the figures which I hope will set up a dialogue between the figure and its forest environment. The viewer can place themselves directly with each character to fully appreciate the beautiful fragility of the figures with their luminous tracery of Lisa’s paintwork.’
Each individual element of this project is 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 the emerging generations. Embodying the spirit of endurance in their literary heritage, Lisa’s figures are the ideal custodians of the forest. Tom’s interventions animate the custodians; capturing the public’s attention through the spectacle they present and challenging the visitors to think about the future of our forests.
In the one hundred years since the founding of the Forestry Commission after the First World War, the UK’s forests have grown and prospered. Today they manage over 1,500 woodlands and forests covering around 250,000 hectares spread from Northumberland to Cornwall, Shropshire to Norfolk. In recognition of this centenary milestone in the Forestry Commission’s history, Future Forest is both a celebration and a call to action, using drama and the age-old power of storytelling to instil within the public a desire to protect the forests of the future.
Future Forest will be unveiled at High Lodge, Thetford Forest on Thursday 3 October 2019.
It will open to the public on 4 October 2019 and will remain open until 30 May 2020.
Notes to Editors
The Forestry Commission
Created in the wake of the First World War, following the passing of the Forestry Act in 1919, the Forestry Commission is now England’s largest landowner. It leads world-class research and actively manages 250,000 hectares of forests to benefit people, nature and the economy. The Commission is also the Government’s expert forestry advisor and works with other landowners to help protect, improve and expand England’s forests.
100 Years of Forestry
The Forestry Commission is marking its centenary in 2019 with an ambitious programme of public engagement across England’s forests. The centenary year will include the largest ever survey of forest wildlife, projects to boost health and wellbeing, new artistic works and educational initiatives. It will see existing forests expanded, and commemorative avenues planted to celebrate 100 years of forestry. To date, a major garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show has visualised what forests of the future might look like, and the Royal Mail has celebrated the UK’s forest landscapes with a special stamp collection. While celebrating its first 100 years, the Forestry Commission is also looking ahead to the biggest challenges facing the nation’s forests. It will use the anniversary to explore these challenges – including climate change and plant health - and demonstrate what action is being taken to ensure our trees and landscapes are resilient for future generations to enjoy.
Tom Piper is a theatre designer with over 30 years experience working both nationally and internationally. As Associate Designer at the Royal Shakespeare Company, a position he held for ten years, he designed over thirty productions. In collaboration with Architect Alan Farlie, he has also designed several acclaimed exhibitions, most notably Shakespeare Staging the World at the British Museum (2012) and Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic at the V&A (2017/18). Tom is perhaps best known for his collaboration with artist Paul Cummins on Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London (2014) which was seen by over five million people and which won a range of awards including the Southbank Sky Arts Award. Since then, Tom has worked closely with 14-18 Now – a major cultural programme which took place across the UK to mark the Centenary of the First World War - to create a further eighteen installations of two poppy sculptures at a series of venues around the country including the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Lisa Wright is an award-winning British artist recognised for her distinctive figurative paintings that explore the territory of the human figure. Trained at the Royal Academy Schools, Lisa’s work is informed by a combination of historical references and abstract sensibilities; her painterly use of colour heightens the dramatic impact of her often large-scale works. Lisa’s paintings have been exhibited in numerous solo and curated group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, with solo shows taking place in London, New York, Hong Kong, Basel and Miami. Lisa has won numerous awards including The National Open Art Prize, The Hunting Art Prize and the Threadneedle Art Prize. She has also sat on selection panels for a number of prestigious art prizes and her work is held in many important corporate and private collections. Lisa’s appointment as the Royal Shakespeare Company Artist in Residence throughout the two-year period of the RSC's acclaimed Histories cycle of plays (2006-08) culminated in an exhibition at the Roundhouse and subsequently at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Emma Parker and Penny Harris created Parker Harris in 1990. Our partnership is now one of the leading visual arts consultancies in the UK. We are a small dynamic team and we pride ourselves in expert creation and project management of visual arts projects spanning all disciplines and all scales. Our clients range from trusts and foundations, SMEs and multinationals to charities, arts organisations and individual artists.
For further information please visit: www.forestryengland.uk/futureforest
For press enquiries and image requests, please contact Emma Walker: