From poetry to bird-ringing - six creatives confirmed for arts projects inspired by the National Forest

6th Mar 2024
Lucy Stevens
© David Wilson Clarke 


Six inspiring arts projects have been awarded funding designed to support the arts sector within the Forest and foster creative engagement that deeply connects people to this beautiful area.

Artists, arts organisations, and community groups based in the National Forest, or with a strong connection to it, were eligible to apply for support and, from now through to September, the selected projects will come to life, offering opportunities such as collective filmmaking, poetry walks for wellbeing, incorporating wildlife data into creative works, and interactive ceremonies inspired by the woodland goddess Flidais.

Through these collaborative efforts of communities, partners, and passionate individuals, the National Forest continues to bring about real change in a tangible place and demonstrate that a positive future is not just a distant dream but an achievable reality.

The Forest Arts Grant supports creative activity that express this in innovative and exciting ways, inviting applicants to respond to the themes of health and wellbeing, nature, sense of place, sustainability, circular economy and climate action.  

Jo Maker, arts and creativity manager said “We are thrilled to be supporting these imaginative initiatives to be delivered across the Forest. The selection was challenging as all the ideas submitted were of such a high standard and expressed a genuine connection to the Forest.

“Those awarded the grants provide a really exciting mix of opportunities for people to experience the Forest in new and intriguing ways, from the playful, to more thought-provoking.”

The six winning projects are –

Derby Poetry Festival with ‘Write in the Wilderness’

A series of fortnightly poetry walks will take place across the National Forest, designed to encourage participants to explore the Forest creatively through writing about their experience of the landscape. The walks will explore the impacts of writing on mental health and aim to leave people with the confidence to continue writing and walking in their own time.

Lucy Stevens with 'A Beacon of Birds'

'A Beacon of Birds' takes an innovative approach by melding wildlife data with artistic expression. Local community groups will delve into bird watching and bird ringing, turning their observations into stunning 2D and 3D artworks. The culmination of this project will be a grand display—a large-scale mobile art piece set amidst the trees at Timber festival.

Evelyn Silver
© Evelyn Silver


Evelyn Silver with 'The Lady of the Forest'

Inspired by the woodland goddess Flidais, 'The Lady of the Forest' invites women to share their experiences within the National Forest. Through interactive ceremonies held at car boot sales in Measham and Moira, the project will explore ideas of reusing and repurposing, adding layers of creativity to sustainability.

Claire Davies with 'Textures of the Washlands'

Venturing into experimental filmmaking, 'Textures of the Washlands' focuses on the intricate surfaces where water meets land in Burton on Trent. Workshops with a local community group will capture the visual and sensory of the Washlands, weaving together a collective moving image that reflects this unique intersection, layering the visual and sensory spaces of the Washlands.

Shelia Ghelani
© Dominic Mifsud


Sheila Ghelani with 'On Rock and Air'

Exploring Charnwood's peaks and quarries, 'On Rock and Air' is a creative research project. Through workshops, walks, and artwork, Sheila will delve into themes of care, wellbeing, and interconnectivity. Drawing upon previous projects, this initiative seeks to uncover the hidden stories of air and rock within this geological wonderland.

1623 Theatre Company with 'Flourish'

'Flourish' is a multi-sensory eco-theatre project aimed at engaging children and teachers with the magic of the National Forest. Working closely with two local primary schools, the project will use drama, games and creative activities to connect young minds with nature and the importance of climate action.

We look forward to seeing how these projects develop over the coming months. Some of the creative outcomes will also be shared at Timber in July, the National Forest’s annual three-day festival held at Feanedock woodlands. 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.

If you'd like to help us continue to support arts and culture projects in the National Forest, then considering donating or if you're someone who has a project in mind, then check out our grants.