A Sense of Place

We’re proud to share our new film A Sense of Place, that tells the story of the Giant’s Chair and features stunning aerial photography of the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail as you’ve never seen it before.

This month artist Onya McCausland with the support of local charcoal burners will transform this iconic sculpture into charcoal to make new artworks in homage to the artist Magdalena Jetelova’s original wishes.

When I met Magdalena I wanted to understand more about her original plans to burn Place. I learned how important this gesture was to her life. Since then, the sculpture has touched many people’s lives so the gesture is a material change that connects to the landscape and with the people that live there. This act of burning is a transformation, not an end.” Onya McCausland.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with events and developments. Download our press release here.

Charcoal burning event:

Friday 23rd October 9am: Local Forest of Dean charcoal burners will build a wood pile with the timber remains of Place, on the site of where the sculpture once stood. At 1pm the pile will be lit and the structure will smoke and smoulder for a number of days. The length of time the burn will go on can vary so we cannot provide an end time, but it is expected to continue until 25th October, possibly longer. The public can visit to observe the charcoal making process from a safe and signposted distance.

New investment awarded by respected local organisations

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail is delighted to receive funding from two historic and prestigious local organisations; The Honourable Company of Gloucestershire Charitable Trust and the Lydney-based Watts Group.

The funding will support new artworks arriving on the Trail in 2016.

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Image: (Left) Andrew Stonyer, Chair of Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust (Right) John Thurston, Trustee of Honourable Company of Gloucestershire Charitable Trust and Chair of Watts Group

John Thurston, Chair of the Watts Group and Trustee of the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire Trust visited the Sculpture Trail to represent both companies.

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail is a major economic and heritage asset to the Forest of Dean. My Uncles John and Melville Watts were both Verderers and thus great supporters of the Forest of Dean its Ancient Woodlands and Historic traditions.

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail draws in people of all ages and from all parts of the world to enjoy the Forest and raise awareness and understanding of the Dean’s unique heritage” John Thurston, Chair of Watts Group and Trustee of The Honourable Company of Gloucestershire Charitable Trust.

John Thurston met with Andrew Stonyer, Chair of the Board of the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust to present a cheque and view a temporary entrance sign announcing the new sculpture plans for the Trail.

This generous donation from the Watts Group and the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire, two very prestigious local organisations, is greatly welcomed. Although the Sculpture Trail attracts a significant national and international audience, we especially value the large number of visitors who continue to come from the local area” Andrew Stonyer, Chair, Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust.

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The Watts Group employs over 200 people in the UK. Group activities include a network of commercial vehicle dealer locations in South Wales, two manufacturing businesses producing polyurethane and thermoplastic sheet, and a property business.

Established in 1851, the Watts Group is still a family-owned business. The head office remains in the Gloucestershire town of Lydney, where it was founded www.watts-group.co.uk

It has a proud history and an enviable reputation built on more than a century of innovation and achievement.

The group is passionate and dedicated to its people, businesses and community responsibilities.

The Honourable Company of Gloucestershire Charitable Trust aims to promote Gloucestershire values and the interests of the county by supporting industry, commerce, sport, education and the arts, by demonstrating leadership and influence, and by encouraging debate.www.honcoglos.org

Farewell to the Giant’s Chair

There’s been widespread coverage of our plans to decommission Place on local news sites and on BBC Online.  A bat survey is currently being carried out, so there are no specific plans replace the artwork. But we do have an exciting series of new commissions coming soon in 2016 that will be sited in new and different locations along the Trail. To find out more read our press release and you can also read our FAQ sheet.

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Magdalena Jetelova’s iconic work “Place“, which has affectionately become known as the Giant’s Chair, is to be decommissioned later this year. The artwork was installed in 1986 and was originally only intended to last a short time before being set on fire. Instead the artwork has remained on its hilltop position for 29 years and has captivated millions of visitors from all over the world.

RIGHT: Archive image of Place in 1986 when it was first installed surrounded by woodpiles intended for making charcoal


Over the years trees have soared around the sculpture and now tower over the artwork. Despite efforts to extend its life, the sculpture has begun to tilt and will eventually collapse. Over the years many sculptures have come and gone on the Trail. Some have been removed for safety reasons, others have been reclaimed by the Forest, overgrown or degraded into the ground. As the older sculptures come to the end of their life,  new artworks appear such as our planned commission by Henry Castle. These additions are not intended to replace older sculptures, but are opportunities for a new generation of artists to explore and reveal new ideas about this unique Forest.

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Magdalena Jetelova’s work has not just attracted humans, but also bats who have said to be roosting in the sculpture for many years. Ecologists are carrying out a survey to find out more about the bats living in the sculpture this summer and ensure that they will be given a safe and long term home nearby.

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust is planning a special commemorative project to celebrate the history of Place, more details about this project will be announced soon.  We’re keen hear from visitors – send us your videos, photos and memories to cathy@forestofdean-sculpture.org.uk.


Then and now

The iconic sculpture once stood on an empty hill top, since then trees have grown to surround and tower over the artwork. The two photos below show the artwork during Spring 29 years ago and more recently in April 2015, showing the trees that now surround Place:

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The arms and legs of the sculpture have weathered and formed many crevices and cracks that have attracted bats to roost hide inside during the summer months.

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