“I would like to find out how the local communities actively use the different woodland landscapes today, inviting them to share both their personal and communal experiences of being in their woods.

Christine Mackey is exploring the relationship that communities have with newly-planted woodlands. It is almost 17 years since the ‘Woods on your Doorstep’ programme, initiated by the Millennium Commission, planted approximately 51 new woodlands in Northern Ireland. What is the legacy of these new woods? How do people engage with them? Christine will be re-visiting some of these ‘millennium woods’, walking, collecting stories, visiting archives and meeting the people who live and work nearby, to explore the different historical processes that have shaped these woods, uncovering the social and physical impacts these changes have had upon the local human communities and the communities of flora and fauna unique to each part of the woodlands.

Christine’s is based at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Ireland, where she works across a range of practices and sites of interest. Her evolving projects, public engagements, publications and exhibitions are meticulously researched, and often pursue a narrative structure based on an assemblage of key research material, sites of interest and the active and creative involvement of other voices, work which embeds a series of sensitive responses in relation to site, agency and ecology.

During residency project with Common Ground she will focus her attention on the many benches that have been placed in new woodlands. Whether positioned commemoratively or simply for the view, what might the bench-marks reveal about the patterns that have shaped and are still shaping the landscape? How do human experiences revolve around them as the landscape changes? What do these different locations reveal about our own creative imaginings of the relationship between all living organisms? Gathering up archive alongside audio and visual recordings from the people who visit the woodland, she will create a series of multi-media works that ‘map’ the layers and patterns of social, historical and ecological life in the woods.


While everything in the surrounding landscape changes, a bench remains still. What can the bench as an artefact tell us about ourselves and our relationship with nature? What do they reveal about the legacy of well-intended programmes to plant new woodlands?


Christine has been busy experimenting with making charcoal before she undertakes a workshop in the autumn which will be instrumental in shaping her work as a Tree Charter artist in residence. Drawing the wood from the trees, an experimental approach to charcoal making.

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