Forest of Imagination attracted thousands of visitors to Kingsmead Square and Bath Quays as the pop-up contemporary arts and architecture event was staged in the city over the weekend for its fifth consecutive year.
The free, three-day event saw city centre spaces transformed into a ‘Future Forest’ with a series of Forest Fragment themed areas – the forest canopy, forest floor, regeneration forest and floating forest.
Each Forest Fragment offered a sensory palette of playful sound installations, visual art trails and ‘hands on’ workshops, encouraging people of all ages to connect with nature and their own creativity. This year’s event placed a special focus on Bath’s unique riverside setting.
Kingsmead Square took the theme of Forest Canopy. Amongst the highlights were three imaginative drawing machines created by Matt Leece, Ray Clarke and Paul Bynoth, a Forest Den lined with books for storytelling designed by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, a 3D forest soundscape composed by Martyn and Gabriel Ware, and an inflatable forest by landscape architects Grant Associates.
Other installations in Kingsmead Square included snaking wooden tables with trees growing through them as places to eat, learn and create, and a giant airborne sculpture made from recycled plastic bags inspired by celebrated Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno.
The Forest Floor area next to Bath College included a willow tree ‘Hideaway’, a pop-up House of Imagination for making and creating, and a ‘Secret Garden’ created by college students.
Meanwhile, down by the riverside, visitors could explore the Regeneration Forest featuring an artistic maze made from cardboard boxes, interactive street theatre from children’s art charity The House of Fairy Tales, elevated ‘Forest Pyramids’ built by Charley Brentall and Invisible Studio and a clay forest with Clare Day with arts charity 5x5x5=creativity.
Finally, visitors were drawn to the River Avon to enjoy the Floating Forest designed by Grant Associates in collaboration with the Canal and River Trust.
Forest of Imagination is a ‘home grown’ contemporary arts, design and creative learning event founded by Grant Associates and 5x5x5=creativity with the aim of heightening people’s sense of nature in urban environments by reimagining familiar spaces in extraordinary ways.
2018’s event was only made possible thanks to generous funding from Arts Council England, Grant Associates, Herman Miller Cares and Bath BID together with the support of a host of local businesses and organisations, including Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Bath Spa University, Bristol Zoo, and Wessex Water.
This year’s event, which ran from 28-30 September, was launched in partnership with Bath Children’s Literature Festival , one of the city’s most popular annual events.
2018 has been the most fantastical Forest to date with more installations, art works and workshops than ever for the public to enjoy. The success and buzz of the event was all thanks to the amazing energy and creativity generated by more than 40 organisations and 12 schools all working together and sharing ideas. We hope that the fantastic turn out by visitors to Forest of Imagination over the weekend shows how public spaces can be used to engage the whole community and galvanise social and environmental regeneration.Andrew Grant, co-founder of Forest of Imagination and Director at Grant Associates
It was a joy to witness everyone exploring their own imagination and creativity through the inspiration and sensory experience of nature. Forest of Imagination is a celebration of the creative ecology of the city.Penny Hay, co-founder of Forest of Imagination, Senior Lecturer in Arts Education, Bath Spa University and Director of 5x5x5=creativity