Forests cover around 250,000 hectares of natural environments across England. The Forestry Commission was founded in September 1919 to restore these areas following the impact of WWI. To mark its centenary, moving-image project The Custody Code sheds light on behind the scenes stories of UK woodland, joining artworks including Nissen Hut by Turner Prize-winner Rachel Whiteread and Threshold by Natasha Rosling.
Led by filmmaker Amanda Loomes, the piece follows contemporary working forests Alice Holt, Delamere, Kielder and Thetford. It charts the life cycle of trees from the planting of a seed through to the sale of timber, revealing the scale and complexity of this process. Created over the duration of a year, Loomes observed and interviewed people working across the country to create a human-centred reflection that sheds light on sustainable practices and unseen moments.
Environmental consciousness is the crux of the film, which is screened on a series of solar-powered monitors housed within a sustainably sourced wooden structure. The building is located in the heart of the forest, encouraging visitors to journey through the landscape to discover the piece. Audiences must then look through slots in the walls to view the film – an experience which mirrors the intimacy of the individual stories Loomes tells. Fostering a wider appreciation of natural habitats and the people working to preserve them, The Custody Code offers an essential insight at a time of ecological uncertainty.
The Custody Code will be installed in Alice Holt, Hampshire, from 10 July 2019 – 2 September 2019, and at Kielder, Northumberland, from 16 September 2019 – 16 December 2019. Find out more here.
Lead image: Amanda Loomes, The Custody Code: Split Still.