My focus during this residency in King’s Wood was metamorphosis as a dynamic principle of creation, vital to natural processes of generation and evolution, growth and decay in nature. I found inspiration in Marina Warner’s ‘Fantastic Metamorphosis: Other Worlds’, likening the life cycle of the butterfly with the myth of Leda and the Swan. Shape-shifting also belongs in the landscape of magic, fairy tales and wonder.
King’s Wood, with its ancient histories, combined with a modern role as a site both of production and leisure, provides rich material for our imaginations. I played with the narratives of myth and fairytale – what if Beauty is the Beast, what if successful Rapunzel withdraws the hair-ladder, what if bonfires really are for burning little Catholic girls?
We visit woodlands for many reasons: forests stir in most people a sense of closeness to ‘nature’; its beauty, its regenerative rhythms – a cycle of life familiar to us, even reassuring, as it reflects our own passage through a lifetime. But it also stirs other, more disturbing responses, a primal fear of dark woods that we bring in there with us. It was these dark woods I explored during the residency.
A publication about this residency: ‘Woods to Where Else: ideas, investigations and inspiration King’s Wood – Challock’ is available from Stour Valley Creative Partnership