Cabinet keep outsmIn the film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky (do search it out if you haven’t yet seen it) the stalker of the title takes clients into the Zone, an area that is ‘off limits’, at the centre of which lies the Room, a place where your dearest wishes come true. In the Forest the Zone is to be found in Lady Park Wood, an area fenced off for scientific research to see what would happen to the forest free of human interference (also that of fallow, roe and muntjac deer, boar and mountain bikers too). This struck me as strange, particularly strange here, in a landscape that has for centuries been so strongly shaped by man. But then again, the desire to enter a zone free from ourselves, free from things we have shaped, somewhere new to explore, that is a very deep desire: it is called wilderness. Neil, I really enjoyed our visit to the Zone. Thanks for being my stalker.

The Cube Calculator

Cabinet cube calculator smYesterday morning I took a look inside another library, that of the Forestry Commission in Coleford, and came across this tome, The Cube Calculator by John Whiting. Rows upon rows of numbers, a quick reference guide (from a time before calculators and computers) to working out how much wood is contained in a certain sized piece of timber. I think the rows of digits have a certain beauty, and are a perfect expression of a commercial way of seeing the Forest. But maybe this way of seeing is coming back into its own these days, but in a new guise, as I then came across a leaflet about how much carbon a tree captures, and the calculation that a cubic metre of timber (sitka spruce, I think it was) captures enough carbon to put against two return flights to the Med! Well, there you go, grow your tree and off on holiday. Thanks Daniel for showing me around and filling me in on the ways of the freeminers and g(r)avellers!

Light bridge

Cabinet rainbowMy first day working in the Forest of Dean today, with two workshops one in each of the libraries involved in the project. Coming back at the end of the day, along the River Severn, which is the eastern boundary of the Forest, this bridge of light appeared over the mud-filled waters, framing Westbury on Severn in the distance. I wish I could have stayed a little, as it was low tide just before the current reverses, often with the Bore wave marking its progress upstream, which I would loved to have seen. In any case, I’m taking this bridge of light as a good omen!

Into the Forest

FoD aerialStarting on Monday, I have a micro-residency in the Forest of Dean: ‘micro’ in that it runs for just six weeks, through May and June. Wedged between the Wye and Severn rivers, the Forest is a fascinating and complex place. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘forest’: here it is not just a word for the vegetation, but it also has royal, legal, historical and cultural meanings. I will keep you posted. Thanks Carolyn for making this possible.