Arts in the Forest: An Imaginative Trail!
It’s the last weekend of the New Forest Arts Festival! The 2 week celebration has included exhibitions, demonstrations, installations, theatre, craft, music , talks and various workshops across the forest.
WSA Library’s, Noriko Suzuki-Bosco, is one of three artists who make up ETC – Everyday Tourist Collective. As part of the New Forest Arts Festival they have been running a social art project called ‘The Imaginative Tourist Trail’. The aim of the project is to “explore the creative possibilities of re-imagining place away from the official stories and historical facts of traditional guided tours.” – ETC.bbb
Godshill is one of the many beautiful villages in the New Forest and has become my local pondering spot and watering hole! The Fighting Cocks pub sits beside the main road going through the village and is always inundated with donkeys and ponies! It’s here that the ETC’s Imaginative Tourist Trail begins.
Just inside the pub is a small table with the interactive trail guides. “ETC produced an edition of 200 Interactive Trail Guides using Risograph printing technology. The map included a hand drawn trail map of the 2.6 mile circular walk in Godshill and a series of prompts linked to 11 ‘alternative’ tourist sites along the trail.” – Noriko
The walk takes roughly 2 hours and takes you through a public campsite and a working farm, whilst also following the public trail paths. Expect some mud and overgrown foliage on route, so wear some good walking shoes!
The map guides you on a circular trail, with numbered ‘stations’. Each number corresponds to a question or thought provoking suggestion on the back of the map. The idea being to follow the trail and find each station, answering the questions or imagining the history presented to you of that place. “The aim of the prompts was to trigger the imagination of the participants and to inspire them to see the scenery with new eyes. The creative encounters that the participants make will create a multi-layered connection, both personal and collective, with the beautiful area of the New Forest.” – Noriko
A few of my favourite trigger points:
‘Hush! The listening bells hear everything. The wind talks to them and they respond. Listen with the bells. What noises are around you?’ This is a woodland path part of the trail, where a large oak tree stands, with some bells hanging in its branches. I stood there and closed my eyes and listened – closing my eyes helped heighten my other senses and I was surrounded by chirps, tweets, windy rustles…and then tiny scurries. I opened my eyes to see a mouse hurriedly passing by!
‘Take care when crossing this bridge. Don’t make too much noise as there is something mysterious that lives below. It does not like being disturbed. What do you think lives down there and what do you think will happen if you disturb it?’ – ‘who’s that trip trapping over my bridge?’! I thought of trolls and goblins, but then my head just turned to fairies and pixies(!), a whole community of them living beneath the bridge!
‘This tree is known as the ……?….. oak. It is believed locally that the three main branches were once three sisters. What do you think might have happened here?’ Standing here by this tree, I could see a rabbit, a deer, a spindly hand….Having something actually stop you makes you focus on your surroundings, to breathe it in and wonder.
I absolutely loved this imaginative trail! I love the outdoors and getting lost in nature and have a strong visual imagination, so it wasn’t hard to get me in the ‘game’! I found myself getting excited by the anticipation of finding the next station point and I really enjoyed creating the stories and imagining the characters along the trail. The ETC have really achieved their aim with the way they entice you into your surroundings making you see things with fresh eyes. Days can seem so rushed sometimes and you don’t take your environment in, stand still and just give acknowledgement to a moment. Every little moment brings us to where we are and I think often the moments are a blur or missed altogether. It was so nice to slow it all down, enjoy the journey and feel present in every moment which led to the end.
If you have time for a walk in the forest this weekend, I recommend this in a heart beat and any kids will love it!
The Everyday Tourist Collective is an artist collaboration from Noriko Suzuki-Bosco, Bevis Fenner & Yvonne Jones.
A few bits of the festival continuing for longer –
- The 17th Annual St Barbe Open Exhibition at St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery runs until 23rd July.
- Curiouser & Curiouser Exhibition at the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst until 10th July.
- Art in the Garden at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, until 16th October 2016.
Some community & land art resources in the library can be found below:
Robynne Willowby, June 2016