Coal Measure Giants 2016


“The sculpture aims to bring to the surface aspects of what lies hidden, to most people below the ground of the Sculpture Trail.

The main coal seam, (The Coleford High Delf) lies 300 meters below ground surface. The work invites the public to experience a physical expression of this vertical depth, by walking the distance between two sculptures, which can be seen one from another in the landscape.

The two sculptures, placed 300 meters apart mark out the depth, have two elements each, which relate to two different periods of The Forest’s history, both geological and industrial.

The carboniferous forests that make up the coal measures are symbolized in one of these elements; a large stone, taken from a local quarry, which carry the marks of trees from 300 million years ago. These stones are found today, above and below the coal seams and evidence the very same tree types that can be seen in the ceilings of the mines.  An instant dialogue is set up between two landscapes 300 million years apart when bringing the tree fossils up from the underground and placing them in the living forest.


The second element of the sculptures are two cast iron forms based on the larch props (or sets), which are used to brace between the layers of sandstone as coal is removed to form the mine tunnels themselves. These are simple 3 piece constructions made from larch trees and are extremely capable of carrying the great weight above. Each free miner had his signature way of cutting the notches, and a local free miner has made the prop from which the iron casts have been taken. The props are a direct representation of the removed coal, cut and formed to the thickness of the coal measure. These are forms that have been left in the ground as the earth, clay and water take back the mine and the props become a skeleton of the mine works. One sculpture is an exact replica of the prop and the other a vertical, tree-like form made from the three elements of the prop. The use of iron relates to the presence of iron oxide within the coal mines of The Forest.

The sculptures are site specific and placed above actual mine workings in order for the public to be encouraged to visualize what lies below their feet, and to give understanding to the imagery of the sculptures themselves. One of the sculptures is sited close to a stream, which continuously runs red with iron oxide.” Henry Castle 2016

Henry Castle was born in 1987 and currently lives in London. He studied at the University of Gloucestershire and Wimbledon College of Art graduating in 2010, with The Landmark Sculpture Prize.

He was subsequently chosen to exhibit in the Anticipation exhibition, selected by Kay Saatchi, showcasing the best of London’s graduates of that year, and shortly after won a residency at the Jupiterartland sculpture park near Edinburgh, which culminated in a major commission for their collection, Hare Hill, which was installed in 2012. Henry’s work embodies a sense of place through a distillation of personal and often solitary experience and the excavation of the history of a landscape, and is realised in a direct engagement with concept, materials and processes
For more information on Henry’s artwork and the research process visit the artist’s website: