Forest of Imagination

Partners Involved
House of Imagination, The Egg, Bath Spa, The Holburne
2015 - 2021 (2020 Virtual Forest)
(2020) Paper artist Jessica Palmer, illustrator and painter Perry Harris, ceramicist Clare Day, environmental artist Alison Harper, dancer Denise Rowe & musician artist Kennedy Chinyere, Andrew Amondson from Studio Olafur Eliasson, mathematician Dr Alf Coles, musician and filmmaker Roxana Wilk, composers Ben See and Esmeralda CondeNuiz, documentary filmmaker Mitch Turnbull, Oliver Wallace from Patchlarks storytelling magician, spoken word poet Toby Thompson and Professor Tim Vyner, Illustrator, Chef and Artist (co-owner of Demuths cookery school), Helen Lawrence, Designer and Sculptor, Matt Leece and Bristol based poet, Jo Backhouse.
Forest of Imagination (FOI) is free annual 5-day participatory arts event that’s open to all, with a creative learning programme delivered by a collaborative team of local organisations in Bath. A unique ‘pop up’ event combining contemporary, multi-disciplinary installations with a kaleidoscope of events and happenings: a place of serious creative play.  

‘Imagination’ is an artist, writer, scientist, architect, astronomer, botanist, doctor, farmer, designer, engineer, maker, gardener. The Forest of Imagination brings the creative ecology of the city to life, combining the collective skills and imagination of multiple creative organisations and individuals. Through the reinvention of a familiar place into one which is extraordinary, the Forest of Imagination transports us to an alternative world where shared experience is encouraged alongside individual exploration across the generations.

In 2021 playful immersive and interactive experiences will transform 5 locations across the city into spaces for creativity. With immersive installations, online events and inclusive participatory workshops for all ages, FOI will explore the importance of nature, wellbeing, and creativity.

Visit the FOI website
Aims and objectives

"Forest of Imagination offers an immersive experience that is inspired by nature and encourages adults and children to enjoy their own imagination and creativity. The event is a showcase for Bath as a hotbed of innovation and artistic exploration.”

Penny Hay, Co-Founder of Forest of Imagination

"Forest of Imagination is a project about the creative ecology of the city, collaboration across generations and between industries. For the last two years we have transformed familiar, but typically neglected, pieces of the city landscape in to an abstract ‘Forest’, brought to life by artists and scientists, carpenters, architects, landscape architects, school children, college students, parents, grandparents young and old."

Andrew Grant RDI, Landscape Architect, Grant Associates and Co-Designer, Forest of Imagination (2016)

Forest of Imagination seeks to emphasise how everyone can engage in a conversation about imagination and creativity by contrasting the idea of the natural with the urban, encouraging fresh perspectives on lived environments, and revealing the collaborative and creative ecology of the city in new and engaging ways.

Evaluation & Key Learnings

Virtual Forest of Imagination 2020 happened in collaboration with TEDXBath, Big Green Draw, Bath Digital Festival, Clayhill Arts, artists, creative partners, schools and young people, creative collaborators and supporters, in response to climate change and inspired by nature.

During lockdown Forest of Imagination joined forces with the international arts organisation, The Big Draw, in a bid to support each other’s work and to continue to support children, young people, schools and creative partners.

The project enabled a huge amount of interconnectedness. In this time of Covid and particularly during lockdown, when we are separated into our spaces, and have far fewer opportunities to connect person and practice, a project like this allows for the potential for an enormous sense of be-longing, and that is an immensely creative process.

I do think that this crisis engenders real change, it is a catalyst to hone thinking around new ways of working, now and post Covid, on how we extend meaningful digital engagement responding dynamically and collaboratively to best meet the challenges head-on. Forest of Imagination has pivoted to a digital programme offer-ing rich, interactive content, in partnership with the Big Green Draw. This includes co-designed online creative activities for children and families with our team of creative professionals and artists, with opportunities for feedback and engagement through our websites. For those homes with limited or no internet access, we will co-design creative adventure boxes to send by post to families across the Bath area most impacted by Covid 19. (Co-founder Dr Penny Hay)

This year’s learning outcomes included:

• Adapting to virtual only participation and collaboration
• Reformulating and exploring new ideas in a digital space
• Sharing ideas and engaging people through an online platform e.g. seeing ‘how effective simple call outs and pieces of content can be’
• Effective use of the social media

Going forward, further learning could include:

• Building upon the learning and momentum from rising to the challenges of Virtual Forest in future years.
• How to draw upon the local and international artist community to enable working with a more diverse artist community (despite the local demographic)?
• How to upskill artists further in working with digital and virtual platforms and growth in this area of artists practice?
• How to harness the power of social media with limited bud-get, and how to build on this in future?

Want to support us in our upcoming projects?
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Want to contribute to the cultural and creative narrative of the City?
Want to work with local Schools and communities?