The Charter of the Forest of 1217 (Carta de Foresta) re-established rights of access to the royal forest for free men that had been eroded since the William the Conqueror.

Eight artist residencies across the UK mark the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, celebrating the relationship between trees, woods and people. 

Common Ground have curated a series of artist residencies throughout 2017 to mark the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest and to support the Charter for Trees, Woods and People, which aims to keep our arboreal neighbours in the forefront of our imagination and our daily lives.

These residencies are taking place in Belfast, Lincoln, Dorset, the Scottish Highlands, Yorkshire Cornwall, Cumbria and Carmarthenshire. Each artist has been commissioned by Common Ground to create a work that explores the interactions between trees and communities that are particular to each locality, and to tell a story about the utility of wood and its enduring presence in the art and heritage of the British Isles. Alongside educational workshops and various community events, the eight residencies will encompass architecture, painting, performance, video, drawing, sculpture and poetry.

Most of the works made during these residencies are site-specific, located in the place that they are made, but elements of all the residencies will be gathered together and exhibited at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park from May to September 2018, as part of a show celebrating the work of Common Ground which will also include the work of Andy Goldsworthy, John Hubbard, David Nash, Posy Simmonds, Ellie Davies, Peter Randall-Page, Clifford Harper and James Ravilious.



Over the course of one year, Kurt Jackson will return to the same hawthorn tree growing in a hedge near his home at St Just, Penwith, in Cornwall, and respond to how it changes through the seasons.

TREEFOLDS | Harriet & Rob Fraser | CUMBRIA

Harriet and Rob Fraser are building a series of drystone ‘folds’ around Cumbrian trees of particular significance to the local landscape and community, made with local stone and craftspeople.


James Webb is creating a sound piece at Yorkshire Sculpture Park that playfully warps our relationship with the history and imaginative possibility of trees in the landscape.


Assemble are exploring the utility of wood through a variety of installations inspired by ‘bodgers’, the traditional craftspeople who lived and worked in woodlands. 20-29 October

BOARDWALK | Clementine Blakemore | DORSET

Clementine Blakemore is creating a timber boardwalk and outdoor community space, built collaboratively from locally-sourced timber, sensitive to the local ecology and landscape.


Alec Finlay is exploring pinewood regeneration projects in the Scottish Highlands, discovering new, surprising approaches to managing woodland in the Anthropocene of the 21st century.


Owen Griffiths is developing a performance and temporary structure shaped by communities who live and work in and around the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

GHOSTS | Christine Mackey | BELFAST

Christine Mackey is creating a series of multi-media works from local archives and recordings to ‘map’ the layers and patterns of social, historical and ecological life in woods.