Forest Pitch seemed a relatively simple idea when first proposed in 2009 for 'Artists Taking the Lead' as part of the Cultural Olympiad. I wanted to build a full size football pitch in the middle of a commercial forest, play two games on it, and then leave it to grow back.
During the following three years, the idea itself grew and developed, to include four teams of women and men, the majority of who were newcomers to Scotland, as well as the decision to add to the pitch's natural regrowth with additional planting of native tree species along the dimensions of the football pitch.
This final addition will create a physical, sculptural association with the games' events, continuing to grow and develop and be accessible for decades to come. With the help of RankinFraser Landscape Architects, a planting scheme was designed to include around 800 new trees, all ‘native’ species. These include Hawthorn, Aspen, Birch, Crab Apple, Oak, Scots Pine and Wych Elm. They were planted by school children from Kirkhope Primary, Lilliesleaf Primary and Knowepark Primary along with volunteers from the Borders Forest Trust and members of the Forest Pitch football teams. These trees will, over time, grow into a huge three-dimensional sculptural representation of the pitch. Alongside the surrounding non-native Spruce trees, the planting helps to create a symbolically diverse eco-system and, with the support of the Bowhill Estate, will be accessible to the public for decades to come.
It is my hope that this symbolic growth will mirror the strength of memories recalled by all of those involved in the artwork. It is these people; funders, volunteers, assistants, producers, contractors and many more, but especially the players, coaches and spectators – who I wish to thank. Without their contributions and help, I would have been unable to turn this simple, fantastical idea into a rewarding, surprising and instructive experience, a physical reality and hopefully, an enduring and engaging artwork. Among the desired outcomes of the entire ‘Artists Taking the Lead’ programme, and the London 2012 Games in general, was the need to leave a ‘Legacy’. This word is a difficult one to define – ‘a gift of property’, ‘anything handed down from the past’, ‘obsolete’. Perhaps Forest Pitch is all of these. I hope you have the opportunity to visit Forest Pitch and to experience it for yourself.
Forest Pitch Site Development – shot over 8 months with a nature camera
Forest Pitch Video Diary 1
Forest Pitch Video Diary 2