Khady Gueye and Zakiya McKenzie, 2021

I hope it adds nuance, beauty and wonder to people visiting the trail. I also hope it brings more people out who then discover a lifelong love with forests, that is the dream

Zakiya Mckenzie

Soil unsoiled reflects the racial inequalities in society and the lived experiences that Khady Gueye a Forest of Dean resident has faced and witnessed. As founder of the Local Equality Commission in the Forest, Khady works with rural communities to combat racial and economic equality through supporting local initiatives, inspiring youth and bringing people together in order to enact fundamental change.

Soil unsoiled is a poetic collaboration between writer and poet Zakiya Mckenzie and Khady Gueye, that took place during the pandemic in 2020. A film narrated by Zakiya was later made and in July 2021 the poem was etched onto a charred pine monolithic sculpture, referencing the local charcoaling industry, in collaboration with artist and producer Matt Nightingale to create a sculptural representation of the text.

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Being able to collaborate with Zakiya and the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust on this commission has been really enlightening. Working to bring to life my own lived experiences of racial inequality in my home town, whilst tough, has been so important for my own sense of identity as a mixed race woman in rural Britain

Khady Gueye

About the Artist

Khady Gueye is a local Forest of Dean resident. Khady’s work with Eleni Eldridge-Tull in summer 2020 to establish a local equality organisation received international attention, shining an important spotlight on human rights in the Forest of Dean and rural communities.

Zakiya McKenzie is a storyteller and PhD candidate with the Caribbean Literary Heritage project at the University of Exeter. In 2019 she was a writer-in-residence for Forestry England during its centenary year. Her 2018 master’s degree looked at the environmental and social implications of petroleum ‘discovery’ offshore Guyana.