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The Big Idea: In July this year Forest of Imagination (FoI) will host a four-day cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary contemporary arts pop-up event in Bath, as a proof of concept for a more permanent arts space in the city.  

Forest of Imagination grew from conversations between various RSA Fellows and creative partners about the need for a permanent contemporary arts space in Bath and it was the first project on the RSA crowdfunding area to reach its funding target.  The background to the project and its early stages can be found on a previous RSA blog which shows the progress of the initiative with community engagement.


Gallery without walls

FoI-nest1webThis four-day event will give participants access to a ‘gallery without walls’: the metaphorical and magical immersive Forest of Imagination (designed by Andrew Grant of Grant Associates), will offer creative workshops and performances. There will be artists from a range of disciplines creating interventions within, and in response to, the Forest. We will hold workshops with artists including Michael Brennand Wood, Edwina Bridgeman, Mauricio Velasierra, and Gavin Turk (Professor of Art and Design, Bath Spa University). The House of Fairytales will be working with artist and performer Miranda La Mutanta to design and build an immersive narrative and gaming environment for children and their families, working in collaboration with students from Bath Spa University. This children’s arts charity was founded by Deborah Curtis and Gavin Turk to research and develop sophisticated artist-led engagement projects. Talks and linked exhibitions will be hosted at the event to showcase the multi-faceted creativity in the city.


The creative team

From the beginning we have had outstanding support from local Fellows, with over twenty Fellows involved in the Forest of Imagination. This energy has helped to launch a concerted fundraising programme and engage a critical mass of individuals, institutions, multi-professional agencies and organisations over the last fourteen months. This group includes: Bath School of Art and Design, the School of Education and School of Humanities & Cultural Industries at Bath Spa University, Grant Associates, 5x5x5=creativity, Herman Miller Inc, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Ideas of the Mind, Illuminate Bath, Bath Festivals, Bath Film Festival, Buro Happold, Bath & NE Somerset Council and Niki Turner Designs. We also worked closely with Stuart MacDonald (founding Director, The Lighthouse, Glasgow) and Toby Jackson (former Head of Interpretation and Education, Tate Modern) consulting on taking the artspace concept forward.

Mini Forest of Imagination at St Saviour's Nursery and Infants School, Bath A mini Forest of Imagination at St Saviour's Nursery and Infants School, Bath


Creative Education

In line with our original concept of an inclusive opportunity for all ages across the diverse community of the city to engage with creativity, we want children and their families, and students to be of primary importance in this event, therefore, the Monday and Friday of the Forest will be dedicated to school, college and university participation. With our charity partners, 5x5x5=creativity, we have already engaged local young people in forest-related projects in schools. We have also worked with Bath Spa University students on wayfinding, branding and digital marketing, to provide professional experience and engagement, ensuring that creative education is a critical element at all levels of the project.



The team have been working with a wide range of partners on a long-term vision to build a hybrid space to make visible the region’s creativity and engage new audiences in contemporary art and making in Bath. Forest of Imagination will create a model of innovative practice and inclusive community engagement for any future events or artspace development.


Get involved

The Forest of Imagination will take place in Bath on 11–14 July 2014.

The RSA West region is continuing their support of the Forest by holding their Annual Conference on Saturday 12 July, in tandem with the event. Please come along and get involved. It will be an exciting event for the area so  it would be great to see you there.


Penny Hay FRSA on behalf of everyone at Forest of Imagination

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