Forest of Imagination festival wins national award
09 Dec 2022
A contemporary arts and architecture project for all ages, co-curated by a leading academic at Bath Spa University, has won a prestigious national award.
The annual Bath-based pop-up arts festival, Forest of Imagination, brought ‘Living Tree Mirror Maze’ to the city in 2022, and it was one of just four projects from around the country to be shortlisted in the ‘one off activity – children’ category of the Inspire Future Generations (IFG) Awards.On 28 November it was announced as the winner, as well as being commended in the ‘Research’ category. Living Tree artist Andrew Amondson joined Forest of Imagination artist Matthew Leece and House of Imagination Trustee Kate Mason in accepting the Award.
Forest of Imagination is co-led by Dr Penny Hay, Research Fellow, Reader and Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University, and Director of Research at House of Imagination, in collaboration with Andrew Grant from Grant Associates (designer of the Super Trees in Singapore), and Peter Clegg of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, working alongside the creative, cultural and educational community of Bath. On every project, the team aims to reimagine a familiar space, to inspire creativity and heighten a sense of nature in an urban environment.
Dr Hay said: We are all so delighted to win this Inspire Future Generations award for the children’s programme and to be commended in the research category.
“Forest of Imagination is such an important research and public engagement project (now in its 10th year) that highlights an interdisciplinary approach alongside a whole host of creative partners – amazing colleagues who are making a difference in this world alongside children and young people.
“In the face of the ecological emergency, Forest of Imagination shines a light on the importance of global forests and the capacity of forests to inspire our collective imagination. Together we can imagine a world that is greener and fairer, and to imagine more hopeful futures, for people and the planet to flourish.”
“In 2023 we would like to invite everyone to ‘Assemble in the Forest’ at Bath Assembly Rooms in partnership with the National Trust. We want to inspire hopeful action in response to the climate and biodiversity emergencies and to find new ways to create inspiring landscapes and habitats that enrich the lives of everyone.”
To create the Living Tree Mirror Maze, the team conducted research in local schools to gather children’s and young people’s ideas to inform the design of the installation, which was open to the public at the egg theatre from 17 June to 3 July 2022, with a free family fun forest at the American Museum and Gardens later in July.
The IFG Awards, run by the Thornton Education Trust (TET), aim to recognise individuals and initiatives that have been working with children and young people, helping them to engage in, and advocate for, a better built environment. The specific category Forest of Imagination was shortlisted for recognised ‘activities or events for younger children that explore architecture as a creative learning tool in an informal setting.
The judges said:
“The Forest of Imagination team successfully developed their activities to be truly focused on the experience and interests of young people. They used co-research and co-design in a stimulating and engaging way, culminating in a genuinely multi-sensory and immersive experience for all.
“This project is an excellent example of how inclusive engagement can also lead to an innovative, built output.”
“The research was interdisciplinary and co-produced with an emphasis on creative processes and critical making as research – thinking through making in a live creative ‘classroom’ environment, co-designing a creative installation that invites pedagogical innovation.”