Following the successful launch of international forest festival Timber last month, the National Forest Company and Wild Rumpus reveal where the idea came from, what makes the festival so unique and why it’s important in 2018.
Where did the idea come from?
John Everitt, National Forest Company:
We wanted to explore ways to truly celebrate the scale of what has been achieved over the last 25 years in creating the National Forest, and to place this work in a narrative of what trees mean to people, how forests can transform places, how a forest can be part and parcel of people’s everyday experience and landscape.
The National Forest was borne out of an idea to bring multi-purpose forestry (for leisure, as a resource for healthy active lifestyles as well as economic and commercial uses) near to where people live and work. The central part of the Forest’s 200 square miles covers the Midlands coal field, and urgent regeneration was needed to help devastated communities and a derelict landscape after the closure of the pits. This vital regeneration and transformation has been led – very successfully – through the planting of trees, eight and a half million to date.
We wanted to find a celebratory way to communicate this, which would be thought-provoking, fun, physical, poetic, to bring the Forest to life for those who live here and for those curious to come and find out and experience more… We wanted to do this in a bold, yet intimate way – and found Wild Rumpus! Their work in activating places in inspiring ways seemed a perfect match.
Wild Rumpus are a social woodland enterprise, working from 4 acres of woods in a treehouse and converted horsebox, running artist residencies and plotting and planning incredible artistic adventures in natural landscapes, so it was a natural fit for them to be the production company who brought Timber to life.
What makes the festival so unique?
Sarah Bird, Wild Rumpus:
Timber will have the format of a weekend music festival, a programme akin to a literature or outdoor arts festival, but more than that it will be in and of the forest. It will be thought provoking and inspire questions about the future.
We’ll be looking outwards to forests around the world to bring the best of arts and culture to Feanedock (an incredible exploratory new woodland in the making) as well as celebrating what’s happening in our local communities.
Most of all we want to have playful and creative weekend that creates memories and has a lasting impact on our audience, transforming the way they look at the world around them, leaving them inspired by how we can live and work in forests.
Why do you think it’s important in 2018?
Sarah Bird, Wild Rumpus:
There’s no shortage of news around climate change, and 2018 is when the landmark UN Climate of Parties ‘COP24’ talks taking place, critical in meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement. It’s important that these kinds of conversations can be relatable and we think that arts and culture can be the vehicle to engage more people.
The National Forest has been around for 25 years now and is an incredible exemplar of what can be achieved with vision and ambition. Now feels like a great time to look out to the rest of the world and to share our experiences and introduce new audiences to this conversation.