The Forest review

The Number isn't up for old red Phone boxes.

In 2019 Henry was selected as one of eight artists tasked with using their creative practice to breathe new life into old phone boxes. These phone boxes, were once a lifeline for remote communities. Now they lay derelict around the Forest Of Dean Area. The Canopy led project sought to engage local communities with these faded relics to see how they may once again be of use.

“I want to gather local stories from people who live in the area about their experiences. All stories from the mundane to wild hand me down rumours that get passed on through the years were welcome.I also want to continue to look at the ancient folklore that is abundant in the area that has always fascinated me.

I will combine this information to create modern myths and legends entwined in lived experiences for a modern audience."

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When the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown hit, Henry found himself stuck on the other side of the country. Unable to continue his in person research, he went digital engaging the online community of the Sling area. Over Facebook and Zoom he gathered stories and led creative writing workshops.

Henry also engaged with another community that use the Forest for a different purpose. Where there are forests, there are communities of people who use the leafy canopy as a spot to host parties. Forest parties have always been a part of rural life since the druids yet are still treated with suspicion by many. This is partly due to space they occupy on the edge of legality. Still, they make for good stories.

The stories formed inspiration for a short collection of poems dedicated to Sling, its phone box and the people and parties that occur there. You can listen to them on Soundcloud using the link below:

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