The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust and The Forestry Commission have worked in partnership for the last 30 years to create this vital Sculpture Trail that enjoys visitors of over 300,000 people per year. We rely on donations and fundraising to commission new works for the trail.
The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail was established in 1986, thanks in large part to the shared vision of Martin Orrom, then Forestry and Environment Officer for the Forestry Commission, Jeremy Rees, the founding director of the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol and Rupert Martin, Curator at the Arnolfini. The original commissions, collectively titled Stand and Stare, came out of the land art movement, in which landscape and the works of art were seen as inextricably connected. Amongst the first group of artists to install works on the trail were David Nash, Magdalena Jetelova, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Cornelia Parker. The sculptures were intended to
‘…arrest our attention, cause us to pause and contemplate both the isolated object and its surroundings. They were 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.’ (Martin, 1990, p.16)
The brief given to the artists was very clear – that the works should respond intellectually, historically, physically and conceptually to the particularity of place. In other words, that all of the works would be specific to the Forest of Dean, rather than reflecting generally on environmental issues or on a generic notion of a forest. The artworks you see on the trail were not simply placed here, but developed and inspired by the place – from its history and its material qualities.