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Iron Pathway
Proposal for the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

Devised in April 2019, concluding a week-long artist residency in the Forest of Dean and along the Sculpture Trail. The group of 8 artists involved in the residency were invited to consider what it means to make art with a forest in order to produce a collection of proposals for new sculptures on the trail.

Individual proposals and artworks by Giles W. Bennett, Jenny Ellis, Margot Gibbs, Richard Kirkby, Eleanor Street, Lori Tebbutt, and Sarah Wood were showcased in ‘Becoming Forest’ at Hardwick Gallery, Cheltenham in October 2019.

Iron Pathway - Sculpture Trail Proposal - 2019 
by: Sarah Wood

'Iron Pathway' 2019

Location: In the Forest floor along the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, in a densely populated area of the forest. 

I propose to create a material response to the Forest of Dean by creating a number of stepping
'stones'. Working with both materials AND meaning this work will be made using slices of tree found on the Forest floor, cast into iron and placed under the thick canopy of forest trees along the trail. The individual iron slices will create a pathway for viewers to walk along, creating a participatory piece in which the viewer is invited to walk amongst the trees and be at one with the Forest in an immersive way. 

The use of cast iron is to reflect upon historical human existence in the Forest of Dean, with an obvious link to its long history of industry and trade in Iron Ore. The vibrancy of the orange in the finished material also reflects the Red Oxide that runs through the streams throughout the Forest. 
I plan to create a piece that will become part of the forest itself, therefore becoming a part of the overall landscape. I do not wish to create something that draws the attention away from the Forest and its trees, but to enhance it and draw our attention and appreciation towards the natural beauty that is held within the Forest. 
The constant change in the landscape is of great importance to my practice and this is what I hope will be reflected in the completed work. With the changing seasons and the change in landscape due to forestry work, the piece will be in constant flux according to its natural surroundings. Nature will indeed begin to take over the work and start to reclaim the iron slices, but also, and most importantly, the surrounding area will change due to natural AND human factors such as tree clearing and other general forestry work.
This, I hope, will create a piece that has an emotional impact on the viewer...the art itself is taking us down a path to view the Forest in a new way, but it will be showing us and perhaps enlightening the viewer to see the bigger picture, it’s inviting the viewer to not only see the Forest in a new light but also to view our entire green planet in a different way. To show us what is really becoming of our incredibly fragile and increasingly damaged planet. 

With the Amazon rainforest recently engulfed in flames and the loss of green space, woodlands and forests all over the world, it is important for me to create an artwork that could intern make a difference. I wish to make positive change, enabling the viewer to take a moment to reflect on how lucky we are to live on such a beautifully green planet, and consider the ways in which we, as humans, have a huge responsibility to protect our planet Earth. 
Trees are the earth’s lungs and we need to protect them, in creating this piece I hope to bring this to the forefront of the viewers mind, but also to enable the viewer, young and old, to enjoy the work and experience the great outdoors and the Forest in a way they may never have previously considered. 

All With the Forest photography with thanks to: Giles W. Bennett 

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