Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust to receives award from second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

Tree Hug by Monsieur Plant

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust to receives award from second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

Image: Tree Hug by Monsieur Plant

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust is among more than 2,700 recipients to benefit from the latest round of awards from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund 

This award will assist in improving signage and supporting a new
one-way temporary art trail with 8 new uplifting artworks to provide a
great day out for visitors this summer.

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail in Forest of Dean has received a grant of £27,550 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen. 

More than £300 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country including Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary announced today.

Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead. 

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

“Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced.

Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”

Cathy Mager, Head of Programme at Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust said:

This is wonderful news and the funding will bring a new section of
the Trail to life with 8 fantastic temporary artworks, whilst enabling
visitors to walk freely at safe distance from each other, guided by
new signage. The Sculpture Trail has continued to be a vital setting
for escape and relaxation for local people through the recent lockdown
– and we’re looking forward to welcoming back visitors from further
afield this summer

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said:

“Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work. 

We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”

The funding awarded today is from a £400 million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by Arts Council England, as well as Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.  

Notes to Editors

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. Find out more at

At the Budget, the Chancellor announced the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund would be boosted with a further £300 million investment. Details of this third round of funding will be announced soon. 


The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust are pleased to announce the winner of our recent South West England open call. Robin Collings and his 9-year-old daughter Isla Collings have been awarded a joint commission to create a metal sculpture engraved with a forest inspired poem written by Isla.

Robin and Isla’s new sculpture will form part of a programme of outdoor installations this summer supported by Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund and delivered in partnership with Forestry England. It is hoped Robin and Isla’s joint creation will inspire andresonate with families that have been home schooling and making art at home with their children through the pandemic. A new one-way route that loops through the trees is planned to enable visiting families to safely social distance whilst enjoying art and nature. Details of the new forest art trail will be released in the coming months, subject to government lockdown restrictions.

Sarah Bowden, Vice-Chair of Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust said:

“The selectors were enchanted by Robin Collings’ proposal to create a new piece of work inspired by the flora and fauna of the forest with input from his daughter, Isla, aged 9. Isla and Robin are frequent visitors to the Forest of Dean, and they clearly can’t wait to return. We look forward to seeing how they collaborate with the forest to bring new magic to the trail.”

Selection panel member Kaye Dunnings, Creative Director, Lost Horizon said:

 “This sculpture is going to be extremely exciting for all the young budding artists that get to experience it and I hope it will inspire more families to create together.”

Robin Collings said:

“I am so happy to have been chosen for this commission. The Forest of Dean and specifically the Sculpture Trail holds a special place in my heart. I spent formative time here as a child, so it is incredibly special to be able to bring my daughter here and work collaboratively on this piece. The last 12 months have been a disconnecting time for us all, so this sculpture will be an opportunity to explore the connecting nature of the forest and the trail for our families and friends”

Robin Collings is an emerging visual artist and producer. Having been a circus proprietor and founder of the iconic Shangri-la at Glastonbury Festival, Robin started creating his own sculptural works intended for open field and festival sites around 2010. By 2015 Robin had commissions from the likes of Rita Ora, Adidas, Secret Garden Party and Mode London, often using steel and light and influenced by stage illusions and showman culture to encourage interaction, engagement and movement from the viewer. 

Open Call Opportunity for South West Artists

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust is looking for artworks that respond and connect to themes of shelter, sanctuary, recycling and renewal in forest and woodland environments.  We are particularly interested in artworks that explore themes of bio-diversity, wildlife and climate change. This is open to artists based in the South West of England*.  The artworks can be ground anchored, tethered or suspended from the tree canopy.

Selected artworks will be exhibited at the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, a Forestry England site, for at least 3 months in 2021. The provisional exhibition date is May – August 2021 but this subject to change depending on government guidelines.

Budget: £2500

Deadline: 31st January 2021

How to apply:

Send a 500 word proposal with up to 5 images as attachments or integrated into document. At least one image should show the artwork with dimensions drawn on top.  Video links can also be sent as you tube/video web links (please do not send us any video files).  The description should include:

  1. Title and description of artwork
  2. Dimensions / weight of artwork.
  3. Installation and display requirements (e.g. is it suspended from trees or ground anchored)
  4. Details of materials the artwork is made of e.g. timber, steel etc
  5. Evidence that you have considered health and safety of public and wildlife – e.g. no sharp edges or hazardous materials
  6. Evidence of durability and robustness for an outdoor public site.
  7. Artist CV as a website link or attachment.

Email to: Cat Roberts, Project Manager:

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail is an open access site with no security or full time staffing. All artworks are exposed to the elements so must be able to withstand strong winds and heavy rain. The site is owned and managed by Forestry England. Due to the open public access, the Sculpture Trust cannot cover costs of any loss or damage to artworks caused by the public, wildlife or weather.

Artworks that will be considered:

  • Pre-existing artworks that relate to the themes of the brief are welcomed
  • New artworks yet to be fabricated are also considered but due to the limited budget evidence must be provided that the artwork can feasibly be fabricated and completed by May 2021
  • Artworks of any scale, but bear in mind its best to propose ideas that stand out in the dense woodland vegetation
  • Any material as long as there is no risk to wildlife, flora or fauna.
  • Self-supporting artworks that cannot be easily moved or stolen
  • Artworks that are suspended, attached to trees or anchored to the ground.

We regret we cannot accept artworks that:

  • require lighting or power
  • are digital or online artworks
  • that are enclosed spaces that require staffing
  • are fragile or have sharp edges that could cause injury
  • could decay quickly and not withstand 3 months of continuous exposure in the outdoors.
  • require insurance from theft or damage

All artists participating are expected to have Public Liability and Indemnity Insurance.

*South West of England region includes: Gloucestershire, Bristol, Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. 

If you are a D/deaf or Disabled artist and require this information in a different format get in touch we’re happy to discuss any access needs. You can also submit your application in BSL as a video link, but don’t forget to include images of your proposed work!

Statement on Soil unsoiled by Khady Gueye and Zakiya Mckenzie

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

New film commissions


The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust is proud to have worked with artists Kristina Veasey and Alec Finlay on two short film commissions.

The films were created in response to the artists’ experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown and the challenges faced, through their respective disabilities, in having limited access to nature and the outside world.

Kristina Veasey image © the artist

Kristina Veasey has been working with the FODST, in partnership with Unlimited, on a Research & Development commission for the past 18 months.

‘If Only Beds Could Fly’ reflects on the artist Kristina Veasey’s exploration of solidarity and resilience within the heritage, landscape and people of the Forest of Dean. The conversations, research and forest immersion that were central to her project were halted when the pandemic struck, but as a disabled artist who is often laid up, she was no stranger to weaving round obstacles and overcoming barriers.

Despite being hundreds of miles away, virtual forest bathing and long-distance conversations, brought connection in a time of isolation and inspired new work full of celebration. ‘If Only Beds Could Fly’ invites viewers to share in the artist’s journey to this unique part of the country.



Alec Finlay. Photo © Mhairi Law

Alec Finlay is an internationally recognized artist and poet whose work crosses over a range of media and forms. Much of Finlay’s work considers how we relate to landscape and ecology.

Alec’s poetic essay, ‘On not walking’, is a personal account of his experience of disability – living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E) since 1991, and the severe impact of Coronavirus, since March 2020.

The text reflects on walking (and not walking), experiences of pain and limit, and creative acts of witness. The accompanying film documents a short trip along cycle paths using an e-scooter, which allowed the artist to re-enter the world, or, at least, travel as far as his local beach.

The essay is an extract from a longer text, which will be published by the American poetry blog Harriet, and will eventually be the centrepiece of a book on disability and rewilding, exploring the concept of a culture of remediation.

Alec’s mother, Sue Finlay, lives locally near Lydney. She installed Ian Hamilton Finlay’s ‘Grove of Silence’ as part of the Sculpture Trail in 1986.

The two new films were supported by funding from Arts Council England Emergency Response Funding. With additional support from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Kristina Veasey’s residency is part of a partnership with Unlimited.

New poetry commission – Soil unsoiled

The Forest Of Dean Sculpture Trust has been proud to collaborate with Khady Gueye and Zakiya McKenzie over the last three months on a new commission, Soil unsoiled.


Khady Gueye

‘Soil unsoiled’ is a poem that explores themes drawn from the lived experience of Khady, a local resident and native of the Forest of Dean, and the racial inequalities that she has faced and witnessed. As the founder of the Local Equality Commission in the Forest, Khady works with rural communities to combat racial and economic inequality through supporting local initiatives, inspiring youth and bringing people together in order to enact fundamental change.







Zakiya McKenzie – Image © Adrian Sherratt

Working together with Bristol-based academic, broadcaster, nature-writer and poet Zakiya McKenzie, the pair have created a powerful, poetic work which will also feature sculptural elements and a film directed by Gloucestershire-based Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell.


Listen out for Khady and Zakiya talking about Soil Unsoiled, alongside Khady’s experience setting up the Local Equality Commission, on the BBC Radio 4 podcast The Untold.

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust has been awarded £146,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust is one of 588 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support – with £76 million of investment announced today. This follows £257 million awarded earlier in the week to 1,385 organisations, also from the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust is a charity founded in 1986. It works in partnership with Forestry England to commission new sculptures and runs community engagement projects and events inspired by the heritage and ecology of the Forest of Dean. Last year it unveiled a new permanent sculpture ‘Threshold” by artist Natasha Rosling and more recently has been working in partnership with Unlimited to support the research and development of artist Kristina Veasey.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: 

“This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back. Through Arts Council England we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time. Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations.

“These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country.”

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:

“Culture is an essential part of life across the country, helping to support people’s wellbeing through creativity and self-expression, bringing communities together, and fuelling our world class creative industries.

“This latest set of awards from the Culture Recovery Fund builds on those announced recently and will help hundreds of organisations to survive the next few months, ensuring that the cultural sector can bounce back after the crisis.  We will continue doing everything we can to support artists and cultural and creative organisations, with further funding to be announced in the coming weeks.”

Nick Bury, Chair of Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust said:

“We are delighted and grateful for this investment. The pandemic has led to some of our sculpture commissions and arts projects involving local young people to be postponed or cancelled, which was devastating for our hardworking team of staff and volunteers. The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail is receiving record numbers of visitors as people are drawn to outdoor spaces to experience art and culture at a safe distance. This new grant comes at a vital time and will help us adapt our artistic programme and revamp our website.  We will be sharing news in the coming months of some of the exciting projects we have been developing behind the scenes”


An online art project by Rich White.

Do you have a favourite view of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean?

Inspired by Bruce Allan’s 1988 sculpture ‘Observatory’ which was part of the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail from 1988 – 2014, artist Rich White has developed an online project called Observatories.

(image supplied by Rich White – ‘The Forest of Dean. I love these breaks in the tree cover where the light comes streaming in. As an homage to Bruce Allan’s original sculpture this Observatory mimics the staircase, but as a shaft of sunlight.’)

During this period of lockdown the project aimed to engage with audiences to imagine the views and locations they couldn’t access around the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.

(image supplied by Shadowed Eyes – @EyesShadowed on Twitter, He chose this image taken from Eagle’s Nest viewpoint because of its ‘grand view of two great rivers’. The Observatory has two platforms to provide a stunning,  unique view of each river)

Referencing Bruce Allen’s contemplative call to ‘stand and stare’ Rich asked for members of the public to submit photographs of their favourite view of the area, along with a short explanation of why the view is important to them.

Rich then used the images and information to inspire a series of theoretical and fantastical towers designed to make us think about how we look at these landscapes and to help us imagine ourselves placed somewhere else, somewhere impossible.

(image supplied by Frances Davis. Symonds Yat in the Forest of Dean. “Breathtaking” and makes you “stand in awe”. The many steps of this observatory will add to your breathlessness but the view will be rewarding)

(image supplied by Matt Nightingale.  Beechenhurst in the Forest of Dean. “This view stopped me in my tracks. The backdrop of fir trees made me think of a stage with the younger plants performing in the wind for the onlookers of the elders behind”)


You can download a pdf of all the Observatories here which includes a ‘print out & draw your own’ section to create your own fantastical designs!

Supported by Arts Council England & Esmée Fairburn Foundation.

Window to the Forest

Calling all socially isolating families to take part in our Window Forests project! We are inviting you to make your own hanging stain glass window, inspired by Kevin Atherton’s iconic Cathedral sculpture and the beautiful Forest of Dean. We know you are all staying home safe at the moment and not everyone is lucky enough to have woodlands nearby. So this is a chance to bring the forest to you!

Download your PDF instructions here: How to Make Your Window to the Forest

You can also watch our simple You Tube instruction video here:

The iconic, world renowned hanging stained glass window by Kevin Atherton

We’d love to see your windows to the forest, so please do share them with us and hashtag #windowforests

Instagram: @theforestofdeansculpturetrail Twitter: @fodsculpture  Facebook/forestofdeansculpture

What you are going to need:

Glue (Sellotape can be used as an alternative)
Scissors (make sure you have an adult to help you)
A Pen and a ruler
Strips of card cut out from a cereal box (or wooden sticks)
Different coloured tissue paper or ripped up magazines
Extra card or paper for cut out silhouette decorations

You can also try making your window frame from sticks you’ve found on your local walks. Pinterest is also a great website to visit for ideas – search for paper stain glass ideas and silhouette artwork.

Find out more about Cathedral:



The Forest is my safe space. It’s somewhere I like to go to escape, it makes me feel at peace and happy. I feel free when I’m in the forest

These moving words have been written by a child taking part in a recent art project inspired by the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail.

Today we are sharing some behind the scenes images of a new sculpture being made. For the last six months we have been collaborating with local artists, Cinderford Artspace and Gloucestershire Young Carers to make a new sculpture called Carousel. Whilst we have had to postpone the opening of this sculpture and its associated public events, we look forward to sharing their completed artworks at a future date. In the meantime, here are some photos for you to enjoy of the sculptures being constructed from a range of natural materials and hand made paints.


The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust would like to thank the young participants and local artists Warren, Bela, Lin and other staff involved in the Carousel project for their inspiring creativity and ideas. We have loved working with you all.

Please visit Forestry England’s advisory information about visiting your local forests during this uncertain time: