Announcing the National Forest Arts Grant projects for 2022

28th Feb 2022
Ian & Jo Douglas
Credit: Ian & Jo Douglas


We are very excited to be able to announce the six artists and groups who have been successful in the second round of National Forest Art Grants, which are designed to support the arts sector within the National Forest. 

The grants were open to artists, arts organisations, and community groups whose work is based in the National Forest or who can demonstrate an existing connection to the Forest through previous work. Proposals were invited that take inspiration from the Forest and in response to one or more of the following themes - Nature, Health & Wellbeing, Sense of Place, Sustainability and Climate Action. 

The successful projects all reflect the values of the National Forest which are centred around the belief that tackling climate change is urgent and sustainability is achievable and only by working together with nature can society and the economy thrive.   

The projects will take place from March to September 2022, featuring music, mindfulness, storytelling, and even woodlice! Much of the work will engage young people in the arts and encourage them to think about the National Forest as a place where they are growing up, as the trees grow up around them. 

Jo Maker, Festival and Arts Officer for the NFC, said: 

“We’ve been able to select some fantastic projects to support this year which will invite people to experience the National Forest in new and imaginative ways. It’s great to see these projects tapping into the joy and positivity that the Forest offers, through creatively connecting to nature, practicing wellness or coming together to share stories, music and experiences. We are really pleased to enable this new creative activity to develop, helping to further establish a sense of place in the Forest and building a positive future.” 

The six selected projects are: 

Project String Quartet with ‘Symphony for String Quartet and Forest’ who will work with primary and secondary schools in the National Forest to create a new composition in response to the Forest. They will explore the inspiration that many of the world’s greatest composers have drawn from nature and the natural world, and how instruments of the quartet are all constructed of different types of wood and natural materials. The new composition will be performed outdoors by the Kyan Quartet, along with over 100 young people, and will be scored by award-winning young composer Jacob Fitzgerald. 

symphony for string quartet forest excerpt
Credit: Project String Quartet


Storyteller Ian Douglas and puppeteer Jo Douglas with ‘Furnace Fables’ will shape and narrate stories with local residents at Moira Furnace. In collaboration with Leicestershire-based Tom the Tale Teller, they will run workshops for all ages to explore the sense of place in the National Forest, and to develop new folklore for the area. They will encourage people to tell narratives of the landscape around them and their place within it. The process will create a new professional performance, shaped by the community. Ian is a regular performer at Timber festival, holding audiences captivated by the campfire. 

ArtSpace, a group of visual and mixed media artists who work across Charnwood and Leicestershire, will expand the Outwoods Sculpture Trail with a series of new commissions exploring the theme of ‘Harmony and Healing for People and Planet’. Expect large scale willow sculptures standing 9 feet tall carrying messages to the Earth, an upcycled textiles-based installation inspired by the prehistoric landscape of the Beacon Hill area and sculptural works drawing upon birds and other species that once inhabited the Outwoods and those that can still be found there today.

ArtSpace will also deliver Wonderful Woodlice clay workshops, helping children to learn about the life cycle of woodlice and the vital role they play in the eco system. Around 100 woodlice created through the workshops will form an installation along the Trail. 

Credit: ArtSpace


Leicestershire-based Buzzing Roots will work with wellbeing and yoga practitioner Parmjit Sagoo to devise a series of guided mindfulness walks, as part of a wider outdoor exhibition called ‘New Leaves and Ancient Rocks Wellbeing Walks’ to take place at Beacon Hill. Drawing upon geological knowledge and natural history, the walks will help participants feel more connected to the natural world and to develop a feeling of wellbeing. 

Buzzing Roots
Credit: Buzzing Roots


Purple Theatre will devise a carnival-style procession through the National Forest culminating in a short play based upon ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’, working with Black and Global Majority artists and the local LGBQT+ community. It will be performed at Derby Carnival, Timber festival, and Derby Pride. 

Frances Merriman and co will create a series of four downloadable audio walks, called ‘Walks that Reconnect’ which will be invitations to observe, explore and interact with the landscape. The walks are intended to help people process these turbulent times, gain a stronger sense of connection to the natural world and help envision and take action for a sustainable and thriving future. The audio guides will be created to be used anywhere in the National Forest, on a route chosen by the participant, as part of the waymarked trails or while exploring sections of the National Forest Way. 

Frances Merriman
Credit: Frances Merriman


We are looking forward to supporting these projects over the coming months and seeing how they each develop. Some of the creative outcomes will also be shared at Timber Festival in July, the National Forest’s annual three-day festival held at Feanedock. Regular updates with be posted here around each of the selected projects, with insights into the creative process and ways to get involved, so keep returning to find out more.