This month so far, Simon has been spending time working on 12 sculptures commissioned by The Forestry Commission, which will form two sculpture trails scheduled to be installed in Page’s Wood in Upminster at the end of the month. The woodland itself is the largest in the area, boasting close to 183 acres of land, 100,000 trees (can you imagine having the job of counting them?!) close to 7km of path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, and a rich variety of different habitats for wildlife. Simon’s sculptures will join a host already in place that were designed by local children, and are intended to draw people in, and encourage them to not only give a reason for taking a walk, but also to help educate and encourage people to learn more about the area.
Commissions like this don’t happen overnight, so we thought we would use this blog to share some of the process, before revealing the finished trail once it’s installed later this month.
Projects like this are a great fit for us. Not only does Simon carve amazing animals full of texture, expression and character, but the thinking and vision behind the project is an extremely good fit for the wider team. Simon and his wife Liz enjoy spending time outdoors, and in their daily lives consider how to steward well and care for, the resources we have. Not only that, but Liz is also a qualified Forest School teacher, so the educational aspect of this project – teaching about the area, encouraging people to connect with the environment and wildlife, and to think about how to look after it – is something very much on her heart too. She is also a writer at heart with vision and ideas for using story to connect with and teach children – Cue some team work…..!!!!
In the early stages, there are many emails back and forth considering budgets, safety, and legal aspects as well as the proposal for the project itself which includes details on timber to be sourced. For this commission Simon and Liz had to focus on two separate trails through the area, and chose to tell the story of the habitat through the eyes of two key characters: Horatio Hedgehog, and Verity the Water Vole. Using poetry that can easily be read and understood by readers of all ages and stages, they introduce the viewer to key animals and aspects of the environment, sculpture by sculpture. The hope is, that as well as enjoying the art for art’s sake, the trail will make the viewer aware of the wildlife that inhabit the locality, and show the viewer how we can look after the environment, even through simple acts like taking litter home and supporting the vital work of the Forestry Commission.
Have our concept sketches caught your eye? Don’t forget to come back and visit us to see them realised and installed!