Can you tell us about your work and what interested you about working in Warley Woods?

Hello, we are Hipkiss & Graney, we create story driven sculptures, installations and participatory performances.
We have a deep-rooted love of forests and woodlands. Much of our childhoods were spent in these landscapes and they were an important part of our journey to becoming artists. We’ve made single statues in woods before but we’ve never had the opportunity to create a big public project that encompasses an entire woodland and their communities. So we are very chuffed that we have the opportunity to do this at Warley Woods.

We believe that we need a new set of folktales to help guide us through this century. Stories inspired by compassion, science, human experience and our connection to nature. These new folktales are going to be necessary as we navigate our way through populism and tyranny, climate breakdown and humanitarian crisis.

Epic stories are everywhere in nature, but none more so than the woodlands. During our time in Warley Woods we’re going to be learning about its ecology, geography and, with help of local residents, creating a new myths for these landscapes that explores the woodlands role in the local community.

Can you tell us a little about what you’re planning for your commission?

Woodland Tales will involve lots of big sculptures that you’ll be able to discover on your adventures throughout Warley Woods. The sculptures are part of a new story that we have written alongside collaborators including the brilliant Gavin Curtis, as well as a new music score created and played by the fantastic Anna Palmer and Beth Bellis. These tales are laden with imagery and characters and to help us create them we’ll be running art workshops for families right here in the woods. Woodland Tales is for grown-ups as much as it is for children, so throughout the project we’ll be hosting evenings in venues across Bearwood including sonic workshops, a pub quiz and live music!

The projects grand finale features a public procession around the woods, when participants will carry banners and wear masks and costumes created throughout our time here working with schools and community participants during the project. This celebration of Warley Woods and what it means to us is a way of paying thanks to its role in helpful us during the pandemic and acknowledges the importance of nature and greenspaces for our pleasure and wellbeing.

What experience are you hoping visitors to Warley Woods to have with your work?

We want participants to be entertained. We want visitors to be transported. We already know the community has tremendous love for their local greenspace, so we would like Woodland Tales to offer more opportunities to spend time here in different ways.
All sounds great – how can I get involved or find out more?

Our family workshops include mask-making, banner-painting and pattern-making taking place on 10, 17, and 24 July these are available to book online, just search for Woodlands Tales on Eventbrite.

These workshops will explore the incredible ecology of the woodlands, from mycelium networks to the life forms within the soil that keep the forest alive. The artworks created by participants in these workshops will reprise their role for the finale of this project when they are carried through the woodland as part of our great procession.

Our adult workshops include a raucous evening of mask-making and live music in Lightwoods House’s beautiful Shakespeare Garden.
If you would like to join us in the woods and take part in any one of our workshops and events then have a look at what is currently organised and open for booking.  Other events will be added as details are confirmed.

Woodland Tales is funded by Sandwell Council Town Grants and Arts Council England.