Future Forest: Tom Piper brings major new sculpture exhibition to Thetford Forest

An exhibition of ten life-sized figures by acclaimed artists Tom Piper and Lisa Wright is coming to Thetford Forest.

Future Forest has been commissioned as part of Foresty England’s centenary celebrations. It features ten life size figures, based on Classical motifs, placed within the landscape, representing custodians of the past looking over our forests. They are designed to act as a poignant reflection of the vital role that trees and woodlands play in protecting our natural environment and the next generation’s role as custodians of our future forests.

PK Khaira Creswell, Director of the Forestry Commission’s centenary programme, said: “This sculpture trail will stop visitors to Thetford Forest in their tracks, both for the beauty of the figures and the drama the installations bring to the landscape.

“Amid the climate crisis, England’s trees and woodlands have never been so important for people and nature. As our centenary year draws to a close, we want people to pause and consider their role as custodians of our forests, helping us to protect and enhance them for the next 100 years.”

Lisa Wright’s life-size sculptures take the form of Classical figures including Venus de Milo, the Three Graces, David, Hyman, Cupid and Daphne. These figures are made from bio resin, a greener alternative to traditional plastics due to its high level of plant based content and lower toxic emissions during the production process. Through their Classical character, these beautiful and youthful figures reflect the spirit of endurance that is embodied by forests: rooted in the past, relevant in the present and essential to our survival into the future.

The custodians will be displayed in a series of six dramatic installations within the forest developed by Tom Piper, best known for the poppy installation he designed for the WW1 centenary commemoration, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which was first installed at the Tower of London in 2014 and was seen by millions of people across the UK.

Working in a forest environment for the first time, Piper’s innovative backdrops will form the settings within which the figures will be placed. Piper’s work will set the scene, starting a journey which visitors to the installation are encouraged to explore: the future of our forests, and their role within it.

Describing his work, Tom Piper said: “Each setting provides a stage for the figures which I hope will set up a dialogue between the figure and its forest environment. The viewer can place themselves directly with each character to fully appreciate the beautiful fragility of the figures with their luminous tracery of Lisa’s paintwork.”

Each individual element of this project is designed to raise awareness of the fact that resilient though they are, the forests of the future will not be able to survive and prosper unless they are sustainably managed: the responsibility for ensuring that this happens will be carried forward by the emerging generations. Embodying the spirit of endurance in their literary heritage, Lisa’s figures are the ideal custodians of the forest. Tom’s interventions animate the custodians; capturing the public’s attention through the spectacle they present and challenging the visitors to think about the future of our forests.

In the one hundred years since the founding of the Forestry Commission after the First World War, the UK’s forests have grown and prospered. Today they manage over 1,500 woodlands and forests covering around 250,000 hectares spread from Northumberland to Cornwall, Shropshire to Norfolk. In recognition of this centenary milestone in the Forestry Commission’s history, Future Forest is both a celebration and a call to action, using drama and the age-old power of storytelling to instil within the public a desire to protect the forests of the future.

Future Forest will be unveiled at High Lodge, Thetford Forest on Thursday 3 October 2019. It will open to the public on 4 October 2019 and will remain open until 30 May 2020.

For further information visit: www.forestryengland.uk/futureforest