The Custody Code at Kielder Forest

A new art film and installation revealing hidden stories from the working forest

This autumn will see Northumberland’s Kielder Water and Forest Park welcome The Custody Code, a new art film and installation produced by Amanda Loomes and developed as part of the Forestry Commission’s centenary celebrations. Available to view from 18 September to 1 December 2019, the film reveals the hidden industry within the working forest, telling the individual, intimate and often surprising stories of the men and women who call the forest their office.

Kielder is the second of two forests to host The Custody Code, chosen because of the critical role that it plays in sustainable woodland management. Today, Kielder is responsible for over a third of Forestry England’s timber production with up to 50 lorry loads of timber harvested each day, to supply sawmills who create chipboard, pulp and wood fuel for customers. All of this timber is independently certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme, which ensures that it is sustainably sourced, complies with laws and regulations, supports local economies and avoids negatively impacting the environment. In addition, 2019 has seen the creation of a new area of woodland in Kielder, one which is more resilient to a changing climate and tree disease, and is in line with the Forestry Commission’s ambition to expand and improve England’s forests.

Kevin May, Forest Management Director for North England said, ‘In Kielder Forest we harvest 600,000 cubic metres of timber each year, generating a turnover of £20m, which is a significant contribution to our local and regional economy. I am delighted to be showing The Custody Code – a film which tells the story of where this timber comes from, how it is produced and the skilled men and women involved in that journey. It is particularly poignant for it to be shown during our centenary year here in Kielder, England’s largest man-made forest, where much of it was filmed.’

The Custody Code will be shown in a specially designed wooden structure made from sustainably sourced local timber located just off one of Kielder’s forest pathways. Partially hidden between the trees, the location of the structure reflects the behind-the-scenes, unknown nature of the forestry industry, in particular its workers. As Amanda comments, ‘It is easy to lose sight of these individuals as they go about their daily business across the 900,000 hectares of land that the Forestry Commission manages’. 

The film will play in a continuous loop across two monitors, which will be sustainably powered by solar panels affixed to the structure’s roof. To view the film, visitors will look through a series of slots in the structure’s walls, the intimacy of the viewing method mirroring the intimacy of the stories being told.

The Custody Code will be available to view at Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland from 18 September 2019 – 1 December 2019. For further information, please visit

For press enquiries, please contact Emma Walker at Parker Harris:

t: 020 3653 0896

Notes to Editors

Amanda Loomes 
Amanda Loomes is a filmmaker who prefers to work with the short experimental documentary form, utilising the redemptive power of non-linear video editing in its ability to speed up, reverse, repeat and stop. She is interested in documenting people at work and is particularly captivated by those whose efforts go unnoticed, or whose work is subsequently undone or erased. By recording this labour, she attempts to either emphasise its value or to inscribe some worth into it, thus using her chosen artform to both exemplify and generate meaning.

Kielder Forest

Kielder Forest in Northumberland is England’s largest man-made woodland with three quarters of its 250 square miles covered by forest. Today, Kielder is responsible for over a third of Forestry England’s timber production, with up to 50 lorry loads of timber harvested each day. This accumulates to over 450,000 cubic metres of timber which supplies sawmills, chipboard, pulp and wood fuel customers. Since 1995, Kielder has operated an art and architecture programme (Kielder Arts and Architecture) which inspires visitors with a vast collection of sculptures, structures and exhibitions.

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.

Parker Harris
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.