The Urban Forest
This work is the culmination of a 6 month ENAS commissioned residency in Epping Forest, that I carried out with my artist collaborator Hannah Stageman. The resulting artwork was exhibited in the Gibbard Gallery in Harlow in autumn of 2015.
During the residency we explored the relationship that humans have had with the forest over time. How we have used, manipulated and changed it for different purposes and how this has tried to be regulated. We were inspired by the spirit of the people who lived in the Forest and shaped its history and ecology such as John Clare, the 19th century “Peasant Poet” who was a resident in Dr Matthew Allen’s private asylum at High Beach and walked from there back home in Northborough. Clare lamented the destruction of the Forest due to the Industrial Revolution and through Enclosures which prevented commoner’s rights.
In 1878 the Epping Forest Act was passed and Queen Victoria declared, “It gives me the greatest satisfaction to dedicate this beautiful forest to the use and enjoyment of my people for all time," the enclosure’s fences were removed and commoner’s rights restored and it became “The People’s Forest.”
The work we created for the final exhibition reflected on the ways in which the forest is used with particular attention to the form of the forest and unique structure due to its history of tree lopping and maintenance.