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Monday, Apr 12, 2021

Artist unveils ambitious plans for a forest in central London

Artist unveils ambitious plans for a forest in central London

London's Somerset House, a well-known historical arts center in the middle of the capital, will soon be home to a forest of 400 trees.

The installation will be the centerpiece of the upcoming London Design Biennale -- an international design exhibition that runs across three weeks.

The mastermind behind the display is the event's artistic director Es Devlin, an artist and designer in her own right who built a name for herself fashioning dynamic sets for the live shows of Adele, Kanye West and Lady Gaga.

London Design Biennale's artistic director and stage designer, Es Devlin

Branching out from tradition

By installing the trees, Devlin will be breaking a rule dating back to the 18th-century which prohibits the planting of trees in the building's courtyard.

"Forest for Change", featuring 23 different varieties of tree, is a response to the Biennale's call to action, set by Devlin: "how can design provide solutions to the major challenges of our time?"

The green space will project a message of collective action and aims to bring life to the solutions necessary to confront global issues such as the coronavirus, environment degradation and migration.

To bring the forest to fruition, Devlin will work alongside landscape designer Philip Jaffa and Urban Greening Specialists, Scotscape.

"Of course, the first thing we wanted to do when considering this year's Biennale was to counter this attitude of human dominance over nature," Devlin said in a press release. After settling on Somerset House as the location for this summer's event, Devlin promptly instructed there be an entire forest built inside the previously off-limits space.

Plans unveiled today show "Forest for Change" will include an interactive installation on the United Nation's "Global Goals" -- a 17-step plan for eradicating poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030 -- at the center of the wilderness.

"In literature forests are often places of transformation: the forest of Arden in Shakespeare, the enchanted forests of the Brothers Grimm," said Devlin. "The UN Global Goals offer us clear ways to engage and alter our behavior and it is our hope that an interaction with the Goals in the forest will be transformative."

"Forest for Change: The Global Goals Pavilion" opens to the public on 1st June and will be created in partnership with Project Everyone, a not-for-profit communications agency founded by British filmmaker Richard Curtis to support and extend the reach of the Global Goals.

"Bringing a forest into the courtyard at Somerset House for the first time is a bold statement that mirrors the audacious nature of the Goals," Curtis explained in a press statement, "they are the most ambitious plan the world has to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change."

"Forest for Change" is showing at Somerset House as part of the London Design Biennale from 1-27 June 2021.


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