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Woodland Tales is a community art project created by Hipkiss & Graney and commissioned by Warley Woods Community Trust.

 

Hipkiss & Graney created a new folktale inspired by the ecology and landscapes of Warley Woods. With local primary schools, families and businesses we brought the folk tale to life through music, sculpture, costume and performance.

The final outcome of this project is the Woodland Tales audiobook which you can enjoy below. The story was written by Jonathan Graney and Gavin Curtis, narrated by Synthia Oenga with music and sound design by Anna Palmer & Beth Bellis.

Woodland Tales audiobook narrated by Synthia Oenga

Woodland Tales is a short story written by Gavin Curtis and Jonathan Graney for Warley Woods.

 

This story is narrated to you by storyteller, Synthia Oenga, with music and sound design by Anna Palmer and Beth Bellis.

 

Woodkid is a spirit of the woodlands. Alone, they wander the soil and roots of the land until one day they meet Muntjac. This story follows the two friends on their adventures within the Woods, meeting fantastical spirits and gods.

 

Woodland Tales was inspired by the ecology of woodlands. Micro-organisms become folk heroes, ecological processes become goddesses. Go to your local woodland, put your headphones in and enjoy this new folktale!

The Grand Procession, Warley Woods, 2021

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The Grand Procession is a Short Film that captures the culmination of our woodland ecology workshop programme. The performance features banners, effigies, masks and costumes made by local residents in response to learning about mycelium networks and the role microorganisms play in sustaining life on our planet. The music is by Anna Palmer.

 

The procession sees a community celebrating their local woodland ecology by personifying complex scientific processes and mythologising them into folk tales about human experiences.

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Woodland Tales Workshops

Take a look at our workshops below. All the workshops were captured on camera by Kate Green and Michael Lightborne.

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Mask-Making Workshop

In our mask-making workshops we learn about three diverse types of organisms that are crucial to our woodland ecologies: Protozoa, Nematode and Arthropods.

Without these important players our world wouldn't survive! 

In this workshop we show our appreciation for these incredible lifeforms by turning them into wonderful folk characters, heroes of the woods and magical guardians of life.

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Banner-Making Workshop

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In our Banner-making workshop we learnt about how Mycelium networks connect the trees and plants of the forest together with fungal filaments, passing nutrients and even messages to and fro around the woodlands!

Participants wandered through the woods, established new trade and communication routes between trees and then designed their own banners inspired by mycelium and mushrooms.

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Pattern Making Workshop

In our pattern making workshop we create beautiful robes and trains for our heroes to wear at the upcoming Grand procession. Participant journeyed through the landscapes on the lookout for the interesting objects and shapes the woodlands create. 

Finding natural objects, fallen twigs and even flora, participants created new visual languages inspired by the natural world around them.

These fabrics were attached to huge masks worn by multiple people at the Woodland Tales Grand Procession on September 18th, 2021.

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Wild Listening Workshop by Anna Palmer

Woodland Tales composer and musician takes our participants on an early evening listening walk through Warley Woods. Beginning with an intense listening experiment, the participants are asked what they can hear.

Each participant is then given a Zoom Mic and headphones which allows them to record and listen intently to the hidden and secret sounds of woodland textures and even below the surfaces of soil and trees.

The sounds recorded by participants in this workshop were used to form part of Anna Palmer & Beth Bellis's score for Woodland Tales audiobook.

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Primary School Workshops: Ourselves within an Ecosystem

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Learning about the important role micro-organisms play in our everyday lives

and how we can help look after our eco-systems by restoring forests and wild lands,

completely stopping all fossil fuel use and switching to renewable sources of energy.

Through group learning/ making we celebrate our local ecosystems that keep our

planet alive.

The Woodland Tales Pots

These beautiful ceramic pots were created by artist Will Kew to commemorate Woodland Tales and are the only physical remnants of this project ever having happened in Warley Woods.

These pots are for sale as a group or individually. Please email Hipkiss & Graney for details of sale.

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Kew took inspiration from the common visual language used in the Woodlands.

The downward pointing arrowhead with the right dash symbolises "care" and/ or "healing" and the more illustrative linear pattern resembles the long grass of a myrchorizhial plant that is used in this spell to strengthen the power of the "healing/care" symbol. 

 

In the world of Woodland Tales, these pots would be filled with water or honey and carried by travellers through the Woodlands. The spell on these pots would ensure their journey had plentiful water and health for as long as they would care for the land. It is traditional to pour a small amount of water on the ground before your first and last sip of water.

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The Spiral symbol seen on the side of pots means "Process" and is usually seen os markings on Mushroom Priests robes but when marked onto these pots it denotes that they are used by travellers. The meaning "Process" becomes "Journey".

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Woodland Tales Concept Art and Posters

Here you'll find some of our concept art used to develop the project. Illustrations and paintings by Jonny Graney.

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Woodland Tales Poster, used on the front of the project programme

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Woodland Tales Poster. Original image without text

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Concept art for Hyphae, Woodland God of Death

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Concept art for The Grand Procession

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First sketch of Muntjac

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Concept for The Weavers, Flagella's Mask

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Sketch for Woodland Travelling Merchants

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Concept Art for Woodland Travelling Merchants

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Concept art for The Watcher

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Concept art for Woodkid

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Concept art for Woodkid

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Rough sketches of the Megafauna

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Rough sketches of the Megafauna

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Meet the Team

Read all about our wonderful team of artists and producers involved in creating Woodland Tales...

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Synthia Oenga
Woodland Tales
Live Storytelling and audiobook Narrator

Synthia Oenga is an artist and performer living in Birmingham.

For Woodland Tales Synthia will tell the tale of Woodkid and their life and adventures as they travel through through Warley Woods.

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Anna Palmer and Beth Bellis
Music Composition, Performance and
Sound Design

Anna Palmer and Beth Bellis are two midlands based musicians who you may know from the band Dorcha.

For Woodland Tales, Hipkiss & Graney have commissioned Anna Palmer and Beth Bellis to compose an original score for it's new folktale!

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Hipkiss & Graney
Workshops Lead

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