Forest of Imagination – a festival celebrating the creativity of young people – spreads its magical influence in the city from 20–24 June. Architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios have supported the event since it first started – Peter Clegg, Katie Shannon and Marcus Rothnie explain more

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCB) support the Forest of Imagination (FOI) festival, partly because, as architects, school design forms an important and enjoyable part of our workload, and partly because as creative professionals we recognise the importance of nurturing creativity in young children, particularly in an era when art education in general is under threat.

“Earlier this year, an in-depth study by the World Economic Forum placed ‘creativity’ third, after ‘complex problem solving’ and ‘critical thinking’, in a list of the top-ten attributes required by the job market in 2020. The value of creative education begins for us in the primary schools of our city, enhanced by the spirit of the Forest celebration.

“As an architectural practice who grew up in the city and benefited hugely from our connections with the University of Bath School of Architecture, we also prosper from FOI. We have developed a tradition where our young graduates work on designing and making installations that help inspire the children, as visitors and participants. And they enjoy the challenge of designing and making something that lasts for a long weekend, giving them a break from a design process that can last years, when creating complex buildings.

“Recently, our constructions have ended up being recycled and adopted by local primary schools and this year we plan to produce a pavilion for the Holburne Museum that will re-emerge for several summers to come. Long live the Forest festival!”
PETER CLEGG, FOUNDER AND SENIOR PARTNER FCB

Katie Shannon, architectural assistant at FCB, was involved in the design and build of street furniture used in Kingsmead Square over the FOI weekend in 2018. This year Katie is working with local schools to design a new project from waste.

“Last year I was involved with FOI for the first time, and it was an eye-opening, inspirational experience – watching young people inhabit the temporary spaces and places created for the festival was a true joy.

“This year our project has been conceived as a reaction to waste, in the construction industry and in our homes, by choosing to use a material considered by most to be ugly and worthless: single-use plastic. I came across Ecobricks – plastic bottles filled with the types of plastic waste we can’t recycle – in October last year when I read an article which discussed practical solutions to the plastic problem. I immediately saw their potential not only as a building material, but also as a vehicle for change.

“Through our FOI installation, we want to encourage young people to recycle and to change their perceptions of plastic by using its worst attribute – the fact that it lasts forever – as a positive asset. Single-use plastics are durable, colourful and readily available and we want to use these properties to create a piece of inhabitable art that turns rubbish to resource.

“In order to collect enough Ecobricks to make our installation, we enlisted children from local schools and scout groups including Larkhall Scouts, Hayesfield Girls School, Bathwick School, Swainswick School and Three Ways School to get involved. Our goal is to engage children to play an active role in the project, creating an installation made of local waste by local people. Our hope is that the sculpture will help bring awareness to Ecobricks and single-use plastics, but we also aim to inspire lasting change in our wasteful shopping habits.”
KATIE SHANNON, ARCHITECTURAL ASSISTANT, FCB

“For Forest of Imagination this year we are contributing to the Holburne Summer Pavilion, a ‘plastic pavilion’ that will be built in Sydney Gardens over the weekend. Made from 100% recycled plastic, it explores the possibilities of creating a refined and interesting stage for various events utilising the potential of its unusual materiality.

“The scheme is designed as a ‘blank canvas of imagination’, providing a starting point for future creativity and exploration. This year, the pavilion will serve as an artistic statement, a stage and an outdoor classroom, celebrating imaginative learning, making and performance. We have embraced the refined versatility of fully recycled and recyclable plastic materials, including decorative plastic panels, lightweight recycled polycarbonate and plastic lumber, brought together in a structure with integrity and elegance.

“Consisting quite simply of a plinth, roof structure and integrated walling informally placed on plan, the pavilion becomes a play object when not in presentation mode. The translucent properties of the plastics mean that it becomes a slightly ephemeral, engaging object in the refined green landscape of the Holburne Museum which plays with dappled sunlight and colour in fun and interesting ways.”
MARCUS ROTHNIE, ARCHITECT, FCB

FOREST OF IMAGINATION AND THE HOLBURNE

  • On June 20–24 the award-winning arts and design pop-up Forest of Imagination is teaming up with the Holburne Musuem to stage a festival of fantastical installations, creative workshops and sculptures designed to spark everyone’s imagination.
  • Laura Place and Great Pulteney Street will temporarily become a tree-lined promenade leading to a fantastical ‘portal’, by Piers Taylor and Charley Brentnall at the Holburne’s entrance, inviting visitors to explore its collections, exhibitions and parkland setting.
  • Sydney Gardens will be re-imagined as a 21st-century pleasure garden with a sustainable, temporary pavilion, along with innovative artworks and participatory workshops that extend up to the Kennet and Avon Canal.

OTHER FOI HIGHLIGHTS

  • A giant lantern structure designed by Piers Taylor (Invisible Studio) and Charley Brentnall.
  • A 3D-soundscape created by Illustrious, led by Heaven 17’s
    Martyn Ware.
  • A nature-inspired virtual reality (VR) experience created by Anthony Head.
  • Storytelling workshops with children’s art charity The House of Fairy Tales.
  • Street Life to Wild Life, a series of temporary plantings by Grant Associates which highlight the value of nature in urban spaces.
  • Clay Forest 2 – a clay workshop with artist Clare Day designed to build a mini-forest of clay trees.
  • Inclusive workshops on the theme of ‘my imagination’ by Threeways School.
  • Installations by local artists and designers including Alison Harper, Jessica Palmer and Matthew Leece, and students from Bath Spa University.

forestofimagination.org.uk