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Matana Roberts & More For Epping Forest Arts Fest
The Quietus , April 8th, 2019 13:04

See below for Quietus involvement in The People's Forest, a special programme of music and more devoted to the unusual landscape of Epping Forest, East London

Gazelle Twin and Matana Roberts are among artists announced for The People's Forest, a programme of arts events celebrating the landscape of Epping Forest as part of the 2019 London Borough of Culture. Curated by The Quietus' co-editor Luke Turner and Kirsteen McNish, the year-long series explores the unusual landscape London's great woodland. Matana Roberts has been commissioned to create a new work responding to the Epping Forest landscape through the prism of the writing of Ursula K Le Guin, especially her 1972 meditation on ecology and colonialism, The Word For World Is Forest. This will be performed in the Medieval St Mary's Church Walthamstow in October this year, marking 90 years since the writers birth. Gazelle Twin will be joined by Waltham Forest resident Helm AKA Luke Younger for her Pastoral set in an intimate venue in September.

The People's Forest will also bring The Dark Outside down to London for a one-off, 24 hour broadcast from the Tudor timber-framed Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge over the Summer Solstice. Submissions are now open for the people of London and beyond to submit music, songs, your kids doing some mad stuff, wedding proposals and so on for broadcast - please send material to In early August, Out in the Forest will be a late night party celebrating a queering of the landscape, the magical blurring of sexuality and identity that's offered by the cover of the trees - performances and music TBC but there'll be some very Quietus-familiar names in a warehouse that'll be dressed for an invasion of the woodlands.

The programme will also feature a series of residencies. The Willowherb Review is a journal aimed at diversifying nature writing, and the People's Forest is funding four writers of colour to create new work - you can find out more about that here. Will Burns, most recently heard in collaboration with Hannah Peel on the excellent Chalk Hill Blue album, will also be an Epping Forest resident poet. Ellie Wilson of folk group Stick In The Wheel is the Epping Forest artist in residence for 2019, and she'll be presenting a sound walk exploring the lost voices of the forest, including her ancestors, the working class Willingale family who helped to save it from being felled in the 19th Century.

At the first event, on 4th May, artist Ed Webb-Ingall will delve into the history of Forest environmental activism, from the 19th century via the road protests of the 1990s in a panel and discussion event, and use this to inspire a new piece of video art created with local young people. Claire Archibald will be bringing her Lone Women in Flashes of Wilderness project to London for a women-only night walk through the woodland with a discussion afterwards on how gender impacts our experience of nature. Artist Una Hamilton Helle of the black metal Becoming The Forest fanzine-meets-art project will take over Queen Elizabeth's Hunting lodge at Halloween for a sound installation exploring how in the forests the boundaries between the living and the dead often feel terribly thin. Also in the autumn is an discussion and gig digging into how woodlands shape our imagination, featuring Will Ashon, Amy Cutler and Sara Maitland, followed by a set by Alison Cotton. Flying Solo is a dance piece in which three international dance artists with roots in the UK, Ghana and the Caribbean explore their artistry in relation to home, their roots and the core of who they are within the Epping Forest landscape.

Said curators Luke Turner and Kirsteen McNish about the programme, "Epping Forest is a unique landscape, with an ecology entirely shaped by the presence of London. Its history and cultural influence too is one inextricably linked with the people who've worked and lived around it in the capital for hundreds of years, and we want to take that into the future through The People's Forest. We're living in fraught political and environmental times, and hopefully through this programme of events we can address some of these issues, as well as celebrate Epping Forest as one of the most stunning and little-known London landmarks”.

You can find out more about The People's Forest here.