The exhibition builds on Sophie Herxheimer’s residency and artist book, The Listening Forest, which combines oral history, poetry and drawing to create a new anthology for Rockingham Forest based on personal experience. The exhibition title originates from the way Central and Eastern European fairy tales and folk stories begin; “A long time ago, beyond seven mountains, beyond seven forests” and refers to the way contemporary artists continue the tradition of storytellers, reinventing myths and legends, to create new folklore for our time. An A4 map of this of this exhibition can be downloaded and printed here. Parking can be found nearby at Willow Place Shopping Centre on Westcott Way
Kenny Hunter employs anthropomorphism to explore cultural changes within our modern environment, and their relationship to the social and artistic legacies of the past. He often depicts the natural world at the point where it interacts with manmade structures. The Swan has many symbolic associations, including Love and Partnership, as pairs are known to bond for a lifetime. However, before the discovery of Australia, Europeans were convinced that all Swans were white, and the phrase ‘Black Swan’ was a common expression as a statement of impossibility. The discovery of black swans in 1697 by a Dutch explorer invalidated this long held belief. In 2007, the writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the phrase ‘Black Swan Theory’, which he used to describe any event that is unexpected and makes a strong impact, against the prevailing view of the time. In this sense, Hunter’s Black Swan sculpture, looking out across the Boating Lake, stands as a metaphor against the prevailing view held by many of Corby.
Robin Rimbaud is a composer whose work traverses the territory between sound and its environment. He experiments with technology to create absorbing, multi-layered soundscapes that connect spaces and places through the narrative of sound. Rimbaud’s new work connects language, outer space and history. During his research he was drawn towards stories associated with Corby, including its emblem the Raven. The name of the town means “Dark as a Raven”, which suggests a very cinematic soundscape and the Raven is well known as a mythological oracle; a messenger between the Greek god Apollo and human kind. The work responds to the capacity of a raven to mimic human sounds, so recordings of ravens speaking have been spliced into emblematic phrases, both abstract and strange. The work also reflects on stories of Corby’s links to outer space; the grandmother who composed a prayer of peace dedicated to the lost crew of the Apollo 11, and Corby’s namesake, a large crater on the planet Mars.
Holly Slingsby reworks ideas of the divine from different cultural traditions. She explores ways in which images and ideas overlap, how particular classical symbols are adopted and adapted as they pass from ancient mythology into the present. In the past, religious iconography attempted to visualise the invisible and articulate the unknowable, and this notion has influenced contemporary consumerism; from Venus razors to Nike trainers and Mars bars. The three installations suspended from the trees throughout the Woods form a Cloud of Witnesses. They are made up of the accoutrements that represent the stories of mythic deities and saints, as if they had been left behind after the stories were told. The iconography of the Greek god Hephaestus, a blacksmith who made weapons for the other gods, alludes to Corby’s steel history.
Sam Francis Read will lead a collaborative event to explore ways in which stories are told collectively by a group of narrators, for the launch. Read is interested in how myths relate to contemporary culture and participants will be invited to craft dwellings, which will then be combined into a composite structure, a new town. The word “dwelling” not only describes the physical appearance of the sculptures (makeshift architectural models as shelters) but also its alternative meaning: to think, speak or write on a particular subject over a period of time, with no predetermined outcome. This workshop event will be lead from the log cabin by Corby Boating Lake (next to the Lakeside Cafe) and will take place between between 2pm-4pm. A recording of his event can be viewed here.
This exhitibition has been delivered in partnership with Corby Borough Council and Castle Fine Arts Foundry Liverpool.
Fermynwoods would like to thank Corby Borough Council, Northamptonshire County Council, Northamptonshire Community Foundation and Arts Council England for their support.