Future Forest

I realise that in all the frantic activity of last year and then the crisis of this I have neglected to write about this , the one project I have that you could actually go and see now !! For a long time I have been talking to the wonderful artist Lisa wright about how we could collaborate together . I first met Lisa when I invited her to be artist in residence on the RSC history cycle of 2007/8. It was a long enough period of rehearsal and performance for her to be truly embedded in the company creating many wonderful sketch books and monotypes and then a series of giant oils that we installed in the upper levels of the Roundhouse during our residency. This was the first time Lisa had seen her work displayed in a non white box gallery context, She was intrigued by the theatricality of the paintings displayed almost as free-standing sculptures within the space.

Through Parker Harris art producers we were put forward together for a commission for the 100th anniversary of the Forestry Commission. Lisa, traditionally a figurative painter, wanted to create sculptural figures evoking the guardian spirits of the forest which she would then paint. In our our collaboration I would design the location and setting of the figures and how they might engage with the forest environment .The project went through many versions , initially impracticably ambitious in scale a hundred figures in 6 forests , we distilled it down to a series of 6 large scale installations in Thetford forest .

We went on many site visits to Thetford looking for locations; the first on a glorious snowy morning in January . Some emerged through chance , spotting a small snow circle through densely packed trees, which revealed a tiny hidden clearing in which we eventually cited one figure. For others we looked to the history of the area as a farmed rabbit warren recreating a skeletal warren lodge to house pair of figures, and in others exploiting the drama of coming through the trees to a newly felled area open to the vast Norfolk skies or the imposing avenues of mature trees. I referred back to the idea of a formal sculptural garden with avenues, walks and secluded arbors , hopefully reexpressing them in a 21st century context. what emerged felt true to my theatre work, creating a space to focus and hold the figures in dialogue with the wider forest landscape and the viewer. It felt interesting that the work was this combination of figure and framing device, rather than just the more conventional landscape art placing of a figure in relation to landscape or abstract sculptural form set against nature. In many ways it relates to my larger installation work where the theatre designer’s imagination in collaboration with an artists work adds an extra layer of metaphor and meaning.

Its still on now over the summer !

Future Forest By Lisa Wright and Tom Piper Thetford forest Cupid and Psyche in warren lodge photo Forestry commission
Cupid and Psyche by Lisa Wright and Tom Piper Thetford forest 2019 photo forestry commission
The three Graces by Lisa Wright and Tom Piper Thetford forest photo forestry commission 2019
Marathon Boy by Lisa Wright and Tom Piper Thetford forest photo Forestry commission 2019
Cloud Venus by Lisa Wright and Tom Piper Thetford forest photo by Forestry commission 2019
Cloud Venus by Lisa Wright and Tom Piper Thetford forest photo Forestry Commission
Daphne by Lisa Wright and Tom Piper Thetford Forest Photo by Forestry commission 2019


  1. Sarah Mullis says

    Hi…. Just wondering where the collaboration with Lisa Wright statues are now? We’re travelling very near to Thetford Forest this Saturday 17th July and we’re hoping they may still be there.
    Thank you. Sarah.

    • Sadly the figures have been removed when the installation finished last autumn . Some of the wooden structures that framed them are still there and give a beautiful location tor contemplating the forest

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