Extended deal for contemporary art in the nation’s forests
Begun in 2012, the new extended five-year agreement from 2021-2026 will bring more ambitious contemporary artworks from emerging and established artists to forests across England, with a strong focus on climate, environment, biodiversity and peoples’ connection to nature.
The partnership is based on a shared belief that art and culture can bring people from all backgrounds together and teach us about how to care for the environment.
Since 1968 Forestry England has pioneered arts initiatives across artforms, across the nation’s forests with temporary and permanent installations ranging from sculpture trails to virtual reality.
The partnership will be signed at Forestry England’s Grizedale forest, a key location that highlights Forestry England’s historic relationship with the arts. British sculpturer, David Nash helped to give Grizedale its name of Forest for Sculpture back in the 1970s when he was one of the first artists in residence funded by the Arts Council. Since then, over 200 artworks have been created in Grizedale forest alone; the current collection includes seminal works by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Harris, Sally Matthews and Greyworld.
Building on the success of the previous two Memoranda of Understanding, the new agreement supports the ambition of both organisations to address climate and environmental issues in the context of art and cultural production.
Mariam Zulfiqar, Contemporary Arts Manager, Forestry England says:
“Success from our previous partnerships with Arts Council England shows that woodlands and forests are a vital place for audiences to engage with art. Now more than ever we need artists to be able to connect with scientists, researchers and experts working in forestry and our future programme will create conditions for this exchange to take place. As experts in forestry at the forefront of climate change and biodiversity issues we have an important role to play in supporting artists understand and address the complexity of the issues we face as a society.
“Over the next five years we will focus on themes such as climate, people’s connection to nature and biodiversity and we are open to discussions with organisations and individuals who also want to focus on these areas. We look forward to collaborating on projects that create challenging, thought-provoking artworks that generate fulfilling experiences.”
“We see our arts programme as an integral way to connect audiences with these priorities and together with Arts Council England, we believe that art and culture inspire us, bring us together and teach us about the world around us, including how to care more for the environment.
Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Arts Council England said:
“This partnership will help ambitious new creative projects to blossom in our wonderful woodlands all over England. Visitors to our forests will be inspired by the ingenuity and imagination of artists as they encounter art in magnificent natural settings. Right now, we’re focusing on the importance of caring for our natural environment, so there’s no more important time to highlight the relationship between artists and the natural world”.
The full Memorandum of Understanding will be published on the Arts Council’s website on Friday 8 October (www.artscouncil.org.uk).