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This year for Timber Festival we are worked in partnership with Charnwood Forest Geopark to present new work from 3 of 'Celebrating Charnwood’s' Associate Artists - Lucy Stevens, Nita Rao, and Emily Hett. These 3 new commissions will showcase some of the work we have been doing with the Feel Good in the Forest projects over the past year and to encourage engagement with key themes and ideas surrounding Charnwood’s wildlife and geo heritage. 

All of the artists also led workshops as part of the Festival, helping hundreds of festival goers to enjoy creativity with and within the forest, taking inspiration from nature. 


Lucy Stevens

Lucy Stevens has been working with the Feel Good in the Forest – Access project as an Artist in Residence since February 2022. She has supported the group to begin to develop their use of different art materials and techniques, working towards the creation of an accessible trail at Lower Beacon Hill. 

Lucy created a site-specific installation using a vibrant composition of bold colours and shapes printed onto 50 metres of fabric, wrapped around trees to celebrate the birdlife within Charnwood Forest, including water birds that can be seen at Charnwood reservoir. Lucy describes her inspiration for the work as follows: 


The forest and reservoirs attract an array of wildlife including bats, bees, moths,

butterflies but also an incredible amount of birdlife. Birds you can expect to see

include blue tits, blackbirds, woodpeckers, nuthatches, tawny owls, tufted ducks,

great crested grebes, buzzards flying overhead and so much more. In the towering

trees of Groby Pool you’ll also spot a heronry, where herons build their nests

sometimes as high up as 25 metres!


The design incorporates colourful mark making to reflect the woodland and reservoir

habitat along with shapes and gestures to interpret the birds feather colour, including

the crest of a blue tit, the shape of the heron’s neck, the buzzards’ feet, the

drumming of the great spotted woodpecker and the songs of the nuthatch.

The design was inspired by the birdlife of Charnwood Forest and also the ‘Feel Good

in the Forest’ project that artist, Lucy Stevens has been working on with local

community groups to explore mark making inspired by walking and listening in the

forest and using natural objects to create mixed media artworks.

Photo credit: David Wilson Clarke


Nita Rao 

Nita Rao has worked with both the Feel Good in the Forest – Skills Sharing and Feel Good in the Forest – Access groups, sharing her willow weaving skills and engaging groups in the use of local materials. Nita is also a founder member of ArtSpace, organisers of the Into the Outwoods Sculpture Trail. Nita will continue to be a key artist for the two previously mentioned projects as well as others in the future and will be creating a willow sculpture to compliment the seating area being produced by the Men and Women in Sheds for the Outwoods.


For Timber Festival, Nita used willow to create a giant Charnia (2+metre tall), the design and method of creation for this was developed following research into the way Charnia formed and grew, supported by Dr Jack Matthews, The National Forest’s Geoheritage Officer. 

Charnia was named after Charnwood Forest , where the first fossilised specimen was found. The living organism grew on the sea floor and is believed to have fed on nutrients in the water. Charnia is significant because it was the first Precambrian (earliest part of earth’s history) fossil to be identified as an animal life form, living around 560 million years ago.










Photo credit: David Wilson Clarke





Emily Hett

Emily has been an associate artist for the Celebrating Charnwood project since June 2021. She has worked with the Feel Good in the Forest – Skills Sharing and Feel Good in the Forest – Explore groups and painted a vibrant design, inspired by Charnwood’s geology, onto our Charnwood Tree.  


For Timber Festival 2022, Emily worked in collaboration with Dr Jack Matthews, The National Forest’s Geoheritage Officer, to create Geological Jewels - an ambitious ceramic installation that tells the story of Charnwood Forest’s amazing geoheritage. The 30 glazed ceramic ‘jewels’ were suspended between tree branches, and represent five geological units within our region: Ediacaran sediments, Markfieldite, Cambrian Slate, Triassic Sandstone, and Glacial Pebbles. Each jewel expresses the texture of particular rock type, both as you would see it within the landscape, and also under the microscope. The arrangement of the jewels reflects the complex arrangement of Charnwood Forest’s rock types – including periods of deposition and erosion. Each ceramic has been handmade and painted before being fired to over 1000 degrees! The glossy face captures the rock forms and textures whilst the matte side is inspired by each rock under the microscope! 

The images below will guide you through the series of events that have helped build Charnwood Forest and are accompanied by artist Emily Hett's creative interpretations of them, which have informed the Geological Jewels installation:

Ediacaran Sediments

Deposited 560 million years ago, these layers of silt and sand lay at the bottom of the deep sea. Amongst these sediments we can find ancient fossil that represent some of the oldest evidence of animals anywhere in the world.


Shortly after the Ediacaran sediments were deposited, several large blobs of magma were intruded under the surface, into the existing rock. As this magma cooled, around 560 million years ago, it crystalised into an igneous rock we call Markfieldite – named after the village of Markfield in Charnwood Forest.

Cambrian Slate

Following a period of erosion, Cambrian silts from were deposited in a relatively shallow sea. These 530 million year old sediments were then squashed by tectonic forces that created the slatey texture. This rock was historically quarried around Swithland and Groby, and used to make everything from roofing slates, to gravestones.


Triassic Sandstone

During the Permian period the landscape of Charnwood Forest was sculpted, with large valleys being eroded into the existing rocks. These valleys were then filled in during the Triassic, around 230 million years ago. The sandstones that were deposited represent desert environments that also experienced seasonal flash floods.

Glacial Pebbles

The most recent deposits in Charnwood Forest were deposited by glaciers 450,000 years ago. As the ice moved south, it collected pebbles of rock types not found in our area, which can now be found in our soils. Some include limestones from the Jurassic, and chalk from the Cretaceous.

Photo credit: David Wilson Clarke

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Timber Festival 2022

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