Jumana Manna. Wild Relatives, 2018.
(Cross Pollination) Photo Marte Vold.
Courtesy the artist.
Arnolfini welcomes you to celebrate what lies above and below the forest floor with Forest: Wake this Ground, a major group exhibition including artists, writers, filmmakers, and composers from across the globe:
Rodrigo Arteaga, Mark Garry, Alma Heikkilä, Eva Jospin, Jumana Manna, Zakiya Mckenzie, David Nash, Maria Nepomuceno, John Newling, Rose Nguyen, Ben Rivers, Ai Weiwei, and Hildegard Westerkamp.
With works that recycle, reuse and repurpose resources, we will be discovering the forests’ ancient rhythms, as well as exploring stories, myths, and folktales, passed down between people over centuries.
The exhibition is accompanied by a programme that includes live performance, film, family events and creative workshops we will be inviting you to share and create your own ‘forest tales’ and to very gently encourage us all to take a look at the impact the changing climate has on nature and the world around us.
Forest: Wake this Ground’s final weekend includes Salvage Rhythms, an ongoing work which uses live performance, sound, film, text and collage to explore what humans can learn about how the other critters, organisms and intelligences we share this planet with come together in hidden, surprising and dynamic ways. Arnolfini will be home to the longest iteration of the performance yet – a total of three hours – with audiences free to come and go throughout.
Forest: Wake this Ground also marks the start of Arnolfini’s renewed approach to sustainable practice that will see an increased focus across all our activities and the implementation of a new sustainable action plan. We look forward to sharing our work with you as a core part of our programme.
Featured artists and their works in Forest: Wake this Ground include:
Chilean artist Rodrigo Arteaga deals with topical issues around absence and presence in his vast burned drawing series Monocultures, documenting the radical change in the forest floor, resulting from a major, government backed planting of the Monterey pine tree, now threatening many indigenous species. A new commission by Arteaga, Fallen Tree, has also be made in response to local woodland on residency in the UK.
Irish artist and composer Mark Garry’s film An Lucht Siúil (The Walking People) looks at the relationships between land, movement and ownership through richly intertwined songs sung in both English and Shelta (the language of Irish travellers). A work first shown in his solo show Songs and the Soil.
Finnish artist Alma Heikkilä, whose work Flashing Decaying Wood, is made in part from pine wood, mycelium and alder flower ink, recreates the microscopic world beneath our feet, physically decomposing on the gallery floor.
French artist Eva Jospin’s towering and immersive sculpture Forêt Palatine, made from recycled cardboard, reflects the multiple material lives that have sprung from the rich resources of the forest. Its fantastical almost mythic depiction also hauntingly forewarns us of the possibility of their disappearance.
In her 2018 documentary, Wild Relatives, Palestinian artist Jumana Manna explores the tensions between human need and natural resources. Through the journey of seeds and the migrant women responsible for their replanting, the film tells the story of the Arctic’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Language and soil lie at the heart of Bristol-based Zakiya McKenzie’s poetry, including Soil Unsoiled (originally commissioned by the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust in collaboration with Khady Gueye) and Primordial Mother Speaks for Herself. McKenzie examines whose bodies belong to the forest, tracing her own ancestral threads to shine a light on racial inequality in rural spaces, bringing new timbre to the forests’ many narratives.
The ideas behind British artist David Nash’s ever-growing charcoal drawing The Family Tree 1967 to 2019, evolve like the trunk of a tree, that thickens and strengthens from the energy provided by each branch, providing a catalogue of decades of practice working with wood in multiple forms.
Intertwining her own ancestral threads, Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno’s complex woven sculptures utilise traditional craft and basketry techniques, reminiscent of plant and organic structures. A new woven-straw installation has also been commissioned which will be completed on site through ceramics made by Arnolfini’s community partners.
John Newling extracts soil from the ground to reveal the history of his own leaf-strewn back garden in Ground; language from the cores and a newly commissioned work, The Night Books burning forests, made from pulped texts, coal dust and crushed charcoal. The work physically released carbon through the process of making, re-enacting the exchange that lies at the heart of the forest floor’s survival.
Rosa Nguyen’s fragile ceramic and glass sculptures incorporate both living and dead botanical forms. Drawn together in a new installation the artist explores the ‘above and below’ of nature through hand-made porcelain, soil and hand-sized ceramic roots.
Ben Rivers’ film Look Then Below looks to the future, journeying into a subterranean world. Shot beneath the Mendip hills and ancient woodland in Somerset, the film reimagines a future in which the full impact of environmental damage inflicted by man is felt.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s monumental upended ‘roots’, cast from the ancient and endangered Pequi Vinagreiro tree (found in the Bahian rainforest), reflect both the uprootedness of arboreal species and the displacement of people.
Canadian composer and sound ecologist Hildegard Westerkamp’s Beneath the Forest Floor was recorded in the old-growth forests of Canada’s Carmanah Valley in 1992. This creaking sound work transports the stillness and peace of these ancient forests to Arnolfini, asking us to consider if these trees still stand today.
‘Wake this Ground’ is a line from the poem Soil Unsoiled, 2021, by Zakiya McKenzie and Khady Gueye, commissioned for Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail.
We offer a range of tools to help you explore Forest: Wake this Ground in different ways:
To help you navigate your way around the exhibition, copies are available in the galleries, as well as for you to download below.
Designed by B Squared Studio
Printed by Earthbound Press
Forest Facts and Finds
Designed by B Squared Studio
Printed by Earthbound Press
There are audio descriptions of the works in the exhibition, accessible via QR Code in all the Galleries.
You can also hear them here:
Forest: Wake this Ground marks the start of Arnolfini’s renewed approach to sustainable practice that will see an increased focus across all our activities and the implementation of a new sustainable action plan.
An Lucht Siúil (The walking people) – Transcript of the film dialogue by Mark Garry
Read the text above as a plain text pdf.
We are so grateful to Little Greene for generously providing us with a selection of paint that forms an integral, and rather luscious, part of Forest: Wake this Ground installations and public areas at Arnolfini.
Little Greene are an independent, family-run business, based in the UK, committed to the socially and environmentally responsible production of high-quality paints and wallpapers.
Read/ watch interviews, reviews and features about Forest: Wake this Ground below:
Julian Perry (b. 1960), Fanfare 34, 2010, oil on panel, 103.5 x 122 cm © and courtesy the artist.
Earth examines how attitudes towards the landscape have evolved and how artists’ approaches have changed over time; from the pastoral idylls of the 18th century, through to present-day confrontations of the climate emergency. It invites us to consider our planet in all its abundance, precarity and preciousness.
Featured artists include J. M. W. Turner, John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, Graham Sutherland and Laura Knight alongside contemporary artists Richard Long, David Nash (whose work is also featured in Forest: Wake this Ground), Anya Gallaccio, Yinka Shonibare, Mariele Neudecker, Tania Kovats, Julian Perry, Dalziel + Scullion and more.
The free family space, Spicer+Cole cafe, shop and Kenny Gallery are free entry, with tickets to the main exhibition £8.90 / £4.45 concessions, or free for under 21s, students, RWA Friends and Art Pass Holders.
To find out more about the RWA visit www.rwa.org.uk