Modernism, open air sculpture and thinking about our influences

Well we are having a supernice Easter and we hope you are too out there in blogland. A mix of pootling around in our camper van and crafting. What could be better than that?

The book cover is from a London Transport series dated 1936 when the company was embracing modernist typography and design and is part of the collection of books and ephemera that influence our work. It’s a delight inside and out with evocative black and white photographs and text. The back cover says ‘This book is for those who find enjoyment striding in the open fields. Its is also for those who like to wander, tracing the seasons along the hedgerows. Finally it is for those who like to read the moods of English country. Here are maps and pictures; descriptions of, and notes on, people places and things. In fact there is everything to make more enjoyable and more accessible your country walks’. So this book ticks all the boxes here at TheBigForest.

We were making a list this morning of what is in, and out, for TheBigForest, our inspiration and influences. ‘In’ is definitely The Festival of Britain, 50’s and 60’s reworking of Victoriana, forests (of course!), the seaside, folk myths and legends, British travel (preferably on the defunct branch lines that criss crossed England), Market Towns, camper vans, old puppets, toys and dolls houses and the list goes on. And out? soulless urban landscapes and…..well why ponder on the negative when there is so much to celebrate? And after we had composed our list Benjamin, Maker in Chief at TheBigForest, got to work creating some artist bears that celebrate and illustrate a range of particular British identities for our open studio event in May.

Actually this post was going to be a celebration of the open air sculpture work at Kings Woods, Kent curated and commissioned by Stour Valley Arts. But there is a story. We downloaded the map from their website, we travelled to the wood in trusty Bruno the  camper van, we followed the waymarking and tramped around the forest for over an hour. Its was a lovely walk, fresh spring sunshine, a beautiful avenue of trees, some bonfires and coppicing going on but…..we only saw one sculpture and that had been decommissioned.

I don’t think we would have felt quite so grumpy about it all if we hadn’t follow the waymarking exactly but on the way back to the  car park we passed a sign saying ‘Do not climb on the sculptures’ and someone had written in chalk underneath WHAT SCULPTURES?, so we are clearly not the only folk who have been challenged.

I’ve visited before and really enjoyed the work so I know there are some wonderful pieces out there. We will come again soon, armed with the knowledge that you turn right after the greensward. Stour Valley Arts are a wonderful organisation and I guess it’s better to be challenged to find the work than be pampered with a mass of concrete paths and over zealous interpretation.

Right, I’m off for a cup of tea and then Im designing a new range of cards as the last ones sold out almost straight away at last open studio event.

And remember what the bears from TheBigForest say, go easy on that chocolate folks.

About TheBigForest

TheBigForest. A silly artist maker creating in felt and paper construction. Like us on Facebook: TheBigForest. Find us at Twitter : twitter/TheBigForestuk


  1. Great minds think ALIKE! I’m visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in my lovely bus, Vince, tomorrow. I’m off to make soup and look at the sculptures (there definitely are LOADS there so no searching over hill and dale for me).

    Fingers crossed that the sun shines and hope you enjoy your cuppa 🙂

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