Gwelen, 2022


Hidden in Mount’s Bay lies Cornwall’s largest submerged forest. In the time this forest established and submerged, the human brain evolved to allow us to imagine things we have not experienced before. By the time the forest had disappeared, we were able to imagine it.

Gwelen offers a series of 85 oak sculptures along the Penzance-Marazion Path, as copse of trees, from which to rest and imagine the forest. Each sculpture has been custom made to the measurements and poses given by local residents to support the body in rest to use the imagination.

Over 600 residents contributed drawings of themselves in their ideal resting poses for imagining the forest. Contributors include Marazion Primary School, Gulval School, Humphry Davy School, Penwith Academy, Wild Young Parents Groups, Newlyn Knitters, the Gallery Tea, Cake & Art Group, our after-school art clubs, and residents who responded through open call.

Each work is carved with markings that hint to the geology over which they look. The works are made of wood that reflects the species from the forest and they are treated with a finish that petrifies the wood.

The artwork is accompanied by a series of podcasts made in collaboration with Storylines and local residents and an activity pack made in collaboration with artists Nina Royle, Kitty Hillier, Maya Ronchetti and Verity Birt. The project included foraging and wood working workshops in collaboration with forager Rachel Lambert and Working Woodlands Cornwall.

Gwelen visual identity is designed by TWO. Fabrication by Plane Structure.

Gwelen was commissioned by Cornwall Council via the EXPERIENCE project, which promotes experiential tourism and sustainable economic growth during October – March period. Cornwall’s funding supports activities that encourage a sustainable cultural tourism approach, connecting residents and visitors with the distinct historical, geographical and cultural assets of the local area and aims to leave a positive impact for the community and visitors alike. The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme under the Natural and Cultural Heritage funding category.