The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust is a small charity led by volunteers, and we commission sculptures for a free-of-charge Forest site at Beechenhurst, which is owned and managed by Forestry England. Whilst we have had to cancel and postpone many events and commissions this year due to the pandemic, we remain excited and hopeful for 2021.
On 22nd November, Gloucestershire Live published an article featuring Soil unsoiled, a commission we have been developing with Forest of Dean based Khady Gueye and Bristol poet Zakiya Mckenzie. Khady’s work with Eleni Eldridge-Tull to establish a local equality organisation has received international attention, shining an important spotlight on human rights in the Forest of Dean and rural communities. We are honoured and delighted to be working with Khady and Zakiya and have been uplifted by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to this project. We thank everyone for their support and encouragement.
We recently released a film of the new poem that Khady and Zakiya collaborated on, and we are in the early stages of planning to inscribe the poem onto a sculpture to be sited on the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. We will keep you posted on our progress.
Social media is a platform we use to celebrate and share stories about the work of our artists and community partners. We welcome respectful debate about our sculptures, but it saddens us to read comments in response to the Gloucestershire Live article that are offensive and intimidating on a personal level about our artists and team members. We strive to give a platform to underrepresented voices and new stories about the Forest. We do not believe anyone should be excluded from the arts in their community on basis of race, gender, age, economic background or disability.
The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail was established in 1986 to commission sculptures to “act as catalysts for our imaginations, releasing new ideas in us about our relationship to nature and the environment, and prompting a sense of awe and wonder.”
The artworks you see on the trail are not simply placed here, but have developed and are inspired by the place – from its history and its material qualities. Soil unsoiled follows in the footsteps of this founding ethos.
We wish to reflect and connect with the diversity of lived experience and hidden heritage in the Forest of Dean, and to collaborate with artists both local, national and international.
Over the past few years we have worked with a wide range of local people including young carers, disabled children and adults, and people living with dementia. Most recently Kristina Veasey, a disabled artist, has been exploring the social history of the Forest, exploring issues of inequality, activism and resilience. Kristina will also be unveiling a new public artwork next year.
Thank you again for supporting our work with diverse artists. We remain committed to commissioning sculptures that spark new awareness of the beautiful, unique and ever-inspiring landscape and people of the Forest of Dean.
Staff and Trustees of the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust