Monday, 6 February 2012

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

Friday was the most gorgeous day, frosty and bright, too good to waste so we made an impromptu decision to revisit the Forest of Dean sculpture trail.

We'd last been there in early June 2008 and I hoped to see some new work as well as old favourites. Very much a managed space, on arrival we could hear the sound of heavy machinery indicating men working. The kind of noise that if I didn't know better I'd imagine it was the Iron Man from Ted Hughes' novel. 

The Heart of Stone
Tim Lees 1988
The fish-like shape touches on the geographic location of the forest, which is sited between the rivers Wye and Severn.
Heart of Stone with Mr B to give a sense of scale (2008)
Black Dome
David Nash 1986
Originally a dome made by packing together nearly 1000 pieces of charred larch, this work is slowly returning to the forest floor, crushed by the many feet that have climbed over it.
As you can see it was quite a different prospect on our last visit, in fact that time we very carefully walked around it. This time however it has almost completely melted into the earth, the larch vanished and looking much like a mini slag heap, soon there will be nothing to show that Black Dome was ever here.

Fire and Water Boats
David Nash 1986
Resembling canoes, these charred boat shapes hewn by hand from single pieces of wood, look abandoned and forlorn.
Iron Road
Keir Smith 1986
Twenty carved jarrah wood railway sleepers sit atop the embankment that in previous years carried the trains taking coal and iron from the forest.

Each sleeper illustrating some aspect of the forests past, from smelting to hunting to writing.
Ridiculously I forgot to bring my camera so I'm trying to take photos with my phone. This isn't usual for me and I spent as much time grumbling about the shortcomings of the phone's camera as I did in taking photographs. Stupid really, as phone photos are more than good enough for snapshots.

Iron Road appears remarkably unchanged with the passing of time.
The woods held in the cold air, and the deeper we went the quieter it became. Apart from bird song of course. 
Miles Davies 1988
A house for tiny, tiny people, a house as tall as the trees!
You can see that House is set among trees and I think I prefer this sculpture in the winter months when it settles into and becomes a part of the surrounding woodland.
Bruce Allan 1988
This is one of my favourites, although I'm not sure I see it as an art work. Of all the sculptures this is the most 'man-made' (I know House is rusted, constructed metal, but somehow it blends with its surroundings) this is so very geometric and structured in shape, dominating the woodland that it sits in, looking like a piece of architectural salvage that may have just dropped right out of the sky.

A stairway leading to a dead-end. A stairway to the trees, from where you can contemplate the forest floor and the pond below allowing views otherwise hidden from us. 

I like the sense incompleteness. In our normal lives stairways always take us somewhere, this doesn't, it just is - it could be a part of a dream.
Neville Gabie 2001
Timber planted in the 1800's for warships was felled to reveal a glade in the woodland.

Taking a single oak and cutting it into cubes, using as much as possible from the tree, a solid large cube is constructed. Now occupying the place once occupied by the tree.
Annie Cattrell 2008
Cast from the face of the quarry in which it sits Echo attempts to provide a snapshot in time.
Kevin Atherton 1986
Tall trees in forest and woodland are often referred to as 'cathedral like' conjuring up a sense of wonder from outside of ourselves. This huge stained glass window alludes to that idea.
Although due to close at 4pm the friendly staff in the cafe provided us with tea and humungous pieces of cake at 5 minutes to 4, allowing us eat and drink in the relaxing warmth of a sunny window and not shooing us outside into the cold.

The sculpture trail is open year round, with a pay and display car park, loos, cafe and visitor information.

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