Charter of the Forest
Tereza Buskova / Richard DeDomenici / James Wilkes and Townley & Bradby / Via Vaudeville! / Boyd Webb / Carey Young
Working in collaboration with The Collection, and The Forestry Commission, ‘Charter of the Forest’ presented a number of new artist’s commissions located throughout the woodland surrounding Chambers Farm Wood, that explored issues relating to land ownership and use of woodland space.
The Charter of the Forest was outlined as a complimentary charter to the Magna Carter from which it originated, and was issued in 1217 by King Henry III. The charter is sometimes referenced as the Charter of the Common Man, as it was the first document to give land access and ownership rights to people outside of nobility or clergy. Lincoln Castle is the only site which holds a copy of both the Charter and the Magna Carter.
Chambers Farm Wood is a small part of the Lincolnshire Lime Woods site which stretches 60 square miles across Lincolnshire. The Lime Woods contain around a quarter of the countries historical woodland along with a number of medieval Abbeys’ and archaeological sites, whilst various areas across the site have been designated sites of specific scientific interest.
The charters re-establishment of rights of access and the historical relevance of the Lincolnshire woodlands, acted as a starting point for the artist’s commissions. The proposed selling of woodland under parliament (2011) and the verbal mythologies that have been passed down through generations exploring the rural of the countryside were explored throughout the project.
Project supported by;
Arts Council England, Lincolnshire County Council, The Collection, The Forestry Commission England, Lincolnshire Limewoods Project, The Film and Video Umbrella, Cultural Olympiad and its partners
The King Of Lincolnshire
Tereza’s commission married the Lincolnshire woodland with Czech fantasies in the form of a tableaux vivant staged photograph. A respect for our history and the natural world distilled and reincarnated into a liberated billboard totem in the woods.
It formed the latest development in a greater body of work which reflected Tereza’s beliefs that our traditions should not grow dusty whilst being perfectly preserved in cabinets. It draws inspiration from ancient mythologies and folklore.
The work united the power of femininity through reference to the Greek goddess of animals, Artemis, the goddess of earth worshiped by Slavs, Mokos and the Celtic goddess of wild beasts, fauna and flora, Flidias and her magical cow with an endless supply of milk. Alongside these goddesses, Tereza explored English folklore, including the Haxey Hood Game, a 700 year old Lincolnshire tradition.
For Charter of the Forest, Richard made a short fictional wildlife film in Chambers Farm Wood. The film served as an allegory, both for the recent (2011) forest privatisation plans, and the ongoing revolutionary struggles taking place around the world. A combination of Watership Down, Animal Farm, and something with extremely low production values, the crew for the film will be cast from human visitors to Charter of the Forest. Production took place throughout the weekend.
James Wilkes and Townley & Bradby
Two-Way Radio Guided Tour
James Wilkes and Townley & Bradby invited visitors to Chambers Farm Wood to take a guided tour with a difference. Shy and largely nocturnal creatures, Wilkes, Townley and Bradby stayed in hiding throughout the tour, whilst the visitors picked up a walkie talkie and awaited first contact. Communicating with Wilkes, Townley and Bradby through the walkie talkies, the group were prompted, interrupted and encouraged, engaging in a dialogue with the tour leaders. They were given instructions and information, some of it unreliable, and asked to complete tasks and speak back to the radio. Through this disembodied communication, taking place deep in the thickets, the group explored the place that woods and forests have in our imaginations today.
Where There’s Smoke
Positioning a seemingly functioning charcoal burner within the wood Via Vaudeville! wished to use it as a symbolic device of sustainability for the forest. Playing with the burner’s status and familiarity it was used as a communicative apparatus, doctoring it’s usual smoke output with coded smoke signals taking cues from traditional English protest sings. The sustainability of coppice crafts and traditional song have long been linked but here point to their adaptive ability to shift and transform to new environments and functions as needed.
This new work also highlighted the longevity of mans maintenance of the forest whist being humorously inefficient to produce clear concise messages. Ravelled in code and ephemeral in nature, the coded smoke messages nodded towards the entropy of protest and reward, both in the past- as in The Charter of the Forest- but also within a more contemporary political climate.
Horse & Dog
Horse & Dog adds to an occasional series of films by Boyd Webb. Distinctively offbeat, droll and engaging, it reveled in the kind of elegantly observed absurdities that have long been a feature of Webb’s photographic works. The film’s protagonists were a pantomime horse and dog, and its action revolved around an ill-fated camping expedition to the country. Combining knockabout horseplay with the artist’s trademark visual invention and sly, sardonic humour, the deft and disarming cameo of ‘man’s best friends’ offered an equally vivid reminder of the eccentricities of human behaviour.
In 2002 Film and Video Umbrella commissioned Webb to make Horse & Dog.
Terms and Conditions
Terms and Conditions, is a short video which featured a besuited female presenter speaking to camera in a welcoming tone whilst standing in an idyllic agricultural landscape, replete with references to the painterly landscape tradition. Her speech appeared to discuss the ‘site’ but the text was actually a composite of disclaimers from corporate websites. In the rural setting, the speech seems both absurd and curiously apt.