Walking Forest

Walking Forest

Walking Forest is a 10 year artwork that culminates in the planting of a new intentional woodland by 2028 to mark the connection between women, activism and trees. Awakening a collective sense of what it is to feel responsible for and to be able to respond to the natural world, Walking Forest creates an international web of women Earth activists of all ages, exploring links between local and global Earth Defenders, natural forest networks, artists and communities.

Overview of Activity

THE CAMP

Walking Forest will hold a camp for Coventry women (defined as anyone who identifies as a woman) during May 2021, and a live public action the following month in June. A series of live public actions and engagements through the summer, autumn on the road to COP 26 in November. Coventry City of Culture 2021 is the start of that ten-year multi-media participatory art project.  

Part of the #Greenfutures programme for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 and in partnership with #SeasonsForChange, the Walking Forest Camp will provide a creative space for environmental activists to learn from women earth defenders globally, and local women change-makers, with their stories of courage and determination.  Drawing inspiration from the natural world, particularly trees (both globally and in Coventry), the camps will explore regenerative culture based on care and co-operation; explore varied forms of creative expression; share knowledge around practical tree propagation, and consider the most effective forms of support for action and positive change.

THE ACTION

The Climate and biodiversity crisis threatens peace worldwide. As a City of Peace, Coventry will host a walking action that connects social and ecological justice and places it at the heart of the city for a day in June, helping to seed a wider conversation about the crisis and possible solutions. Co-created with a wide range of participants this performative action will take learning from the camp, reveal creative expression and give voice to women activists from across the city.

 

Image: Hands holding roots, image by The Walking Forest

Image: Hands holding roots, image by The Walking Forest

About the Project

‘We are on Earth to be pollinators, we carry seeds’ Robin Harford, Forager.

100 years ago, Suffragettes and Suffragists took a stand in the UK to get votes for women, showing ‘ordinary’ people can make extraordinary change.  Walking Forest explores how women today are making a stand for nature and how the natural world might be represented in legal and political systems for the safe future of our planet.  

Inspired by stories of women change-makers from the past and the present, Walking Forest seeds a network of links between women of all ages and from across the world who act in order to change the way we see nature and our place within it.  Walking Forest gives a creative space to embolden women to take an active role in making this change with ongoing work at COP26 and building towards the planting of an ‘intentional forest’ to honour women earth defenders.

Creative Team

Ruth Ben-Tovim

‘I worked for ten years as a theatre director and dramaturg before focusing
my practice within a community context as a socially and ecologically engaged artist, facilitator and designer.

From 2003 - 2020 I was the co- founder and Exec Director of Encounters Arts specialising in community involvement and engagement.

Working in different sectors and with diverse collaborators, I produced and delivered over 60 intimate participatory projects that invited people from all backgrounds to explore and express creatively their experiences of the past, responses to the present and hopes and fears about the future.

Work included being part of the team representing the UK at the Venice Biennale of Architecture and projects for Liverpool Capital of Culture.

Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects and Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation
guide me. I have been active in Extinction Rebellion as a local and national coordinator and was one of the instigators of the Culture Declares Emergency movement.’

Website

Shelley Castle

‘I am a visual artist with a studio background but have worked for over a decade in South Devon as a community artist, leading collaborative work that researches and celebrates local flora and fauna through textiles, procession, making, song and dance.

My interest is in how we are enabled, by making with our hands, to talk about difficult topics such as climate breakdown and extinction. Through the projects

I bring together folk that don’t normally meet and have worked with, amongst many others, fishermen, lace makers, dancers, horologists, mycologists. I often partner with Museums and am continuing to evolve the Museum of Now, created and delivered twice through Encounters Arts.

All my work revolves around the natural world and our relationships within it, and my most recent projects have involved the sea, sea grass and seahorses as well as fungi and mycelium in particular. I also work with Extinction Rebellion and Culture Declares.

Website

Anne-Marie Culhane

‘I create events, performances and long-term projects that invite people into active and enquiring relationships with each other, the land and earth’s natural systems framed within the context of a global climate and ecological
emergency.

I am an artist, activist, project manager and collaborator working across a range of disciplines. My work takes place in outdoor spaces, community centres, parks, the street and sometimes in galleries and museums. I am constantly learning the arts of collaboration and co-production.

I draw inspiration from the cycles of nature and seasons; environmental and ecological concerns or questions and listening and responding to people, landscapes and particular sites. Much of my work focuses on our relationship to trees and orchards including performance such as Running with Tree and planting, harvesting and celebrating trees in common spaces such as FLOW, Fruit Routes and Abundance.’

Website

Lucy Neal

‘I am a theatre maker and writer exploring celebratory events that act as catalysts for change: from the gifting of a small seed in a six-minute ritual to the staging of a theatre of fire for 20,000 in a London Park.

Co-founder Director of the London International Festival of Theatre (1981- 2005), I am active in the grassroots Transition movement in Tooting, South London where I live. My handbook Playing for Time - Making Art As If the World Mattered, (Oberon Books 2015) maps collaborative arts practices emerging in response to planetary challenges.

I tutor on The Arvon Writing Course Fierce Words and am a Trustee of the Aluna Foundation. I am the author of The Great Imagining - how the arts spark cultural change in Zero Carbon Britain’s Making It Happen, and is a founder ‘declarer’ of Culture Declares, a global movement of artists and cultural organisations declaring a climate and ecological emergency.’

Website

Walking Forest Coventry Event: Map and Timetable

Events

Walking Forest Coventry

A Performance Action across Coventry  

Dawn on Friday October 15th until Dusk Saturday October 16th 

‘Courage calls to courage everywhere’ Millicent Fawcett (1913) 

A felled tree moves through the streets of Coventry, carried by a large group of women.  An act of endurance and love for the planet and future generations. Planting seeds of courage across the city as they go.