Working in collaboration with The Collection, and the Forestry Commission, Charter of the Forest presented artists' commissions exploring issues relating to land ownership and use of woodland space in the woods surrounding Chambers Farm Wood.
The 'Charter of the Forest' was outlined as a complimentary charter to the Magna Carta, and was issued in 1217 by King Henry III. The charter is sometimes referenced as the 'Charter of the Common Man', as it was the first document to give land access and ownership rights to people outside of nobility or clergy.
The Charter's re-establishment of rights of access, and the historical relevance of the Lincolnshire woodlands acted as starting points for the artists' commissions. The proposed selling of woodland under parliament in 2011 and the woodland's historical mythologies were explored throughout the projects
The commissions were:
Where There’s Smoke
Chambers Farm Wood is a small part of the Lincolnshire Lime Woods site which stretches 60 square miles across Lincolnshire.
by Via Vaudeville!
Positioning a charcoal burner within the wood, Via Vaudeville! used it as a symbol of sustainability for the forest. Playing with the burner’s status and familiarity, she used it as a communicative apparatus, doctoring its usual smoke output with coded smoke signals, taking cues from traditional English protest songs. It highlighted the longevity of human maintenance of the forest, whist being humorously inefficient, to produce clear concise messages.
DeDomenici made a short fictional wildlife film in Chambers Farm Wood. The film served as an allegory, both for the 2011 forest privatisation plans, and the ongoing revolutionary struggles taking place around the world. The crew for the film was cast from visitors to Charter of the Forest.
Two-Way Radio Guided Tour
by James Wilkes and Townley & Bradby
James Wilkes and Townley & Bradby invited visitors to take a guided tour through the wood. Communicating with the artists through walkie talkies, the visitors were prompted, given instructions and information, some of it unreliable, and asked to complete tasks. Through this disembodied communication, taking place deep in the thickets, the visitors explored the place that woods and forests have in contemporary imagination.
Terms and conditions
This video featured a besuited female presenter speaking to camera in a welcoming tone whilst standing in an idyllic agricultural landscape, replete with references to the painterly landscape tradition. Her speech appeared to discuss the ‘site’ but the text was a composite of disclaimers from corporate websites. In the rural setting, the speech seems both absurd and curiously apt.
The King of Lincolnshire
This commission married the Lincolnshire woodland with Czech fantasies in the form of a tableaux vivant staged photograph. Alongside Artemis, the goddess of animals, and Mokos, the Slav goddess of wild beasts and flora, the work explored English folklore, including the Haxey Hood Game, a 700-year-old Lincolnshire tradition.
Horse and Dog
There was a showing of this film, commissioned in 2002 by the Film and Video Umbrella. The film’s protagonists were a pantomime horse and dog, and its action revolved around an ill-fated camping expedition to the country.
Photo above by James E. Smith