Chong Kwan’s The People’s Forest is a new body of photographic and sculptural work which explores the history, politics, and people of London’s ancient woodland. The works in the exhibition play with imitation and representation, modelling, collage, cutting and growing, bodily scale, and an interplay between two and three-dimensionality.
A series of photographic portraits include people who look after, manage, and enjoy the forest, including arborists, volunteers, and people whom the artist met through the activities and events she hosted in Epping Forest. Chong Kwan worked with each subject to translate their emotions and experiences of places in the forest that are special to them into a photographic accoutrement worn on the body. The photographs reference William Morris’ layering of medieval epics and themes in his childhood experience of Epping Forest and invites the viewer to get lost in the image surface whilst referencing the visual management or artifice of the ‘natural’ landscape.
Chong Kwan has also created a series of photographic prints, using collage techniques, which connect historic and contemporary moments and issues related to both Epping Forest, such as the M11 Link Road Protests, and forests more widely, including deforestation, which the artist has then hand-tinted with colour dyes created out of ingredients from the forest.
Further sculptural/photographic works and a work with which the viewer can physically engage will also feature in the exhibition.