Three years after getting first involved the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust managed to get the required funding and we could earnestly start developing the concept and designs. The brief asked for a minimum of five educational installations which could be used by the rangers to take the children of the nearby school into the woodland, but which would also be of interest to regular visitors. These educational installations were to be supplemented with art works to raise an eyebrow, create interest, highlight the beauty and charm of our woodlands.
Considering that we were dealing with an ancient woodland we were wondering how the creatures of Celtic mythology and the traditional residents of the Scottish woodlands such as Fairies, Goona, Hags & Giants would cope with the pressures of a growing population invading their habitat? Will we still be able to see the Fairies dance in the moonlight if we are quiet enough? Or stumble across a Giant’s footprint? Can we still discover Goona’s (fairies, which were banished from Fairyland for disobeying orders) hiding below rocks or decaying tree stumps? Or feel the energy and power of the Hags, who are stronger and greater than gods and might come to help if needed?
The installations in the woodland have been designed to engage regulars as well as visitors; children as well as grown ups. Some of them are temporary for sparking imagination, inviting to play with the materials, textures and colours found in the woodland. They are designed to be re-arranged, adjusted, or copied. Others are more permanent teaching about the animals that inhabit our woodlands and the tracks they leave behind. They explain which tree species our woodlands are made of and show the wide ranging properties and appearance of the different timbers, the range of leaves our trees produce and the fruits and berries that can be harvested. They always refer back to their importance in Scottish mythology, adding a less tangible dimension, reminding the visitors to look out for the traces of these creatures. Some of the installations just play with mind and imagination, inviting children (and adults) to imagine the hidden world of our forests. The observant eye might glimpse a giant’s footprint or fairies in the trees – or was it a goona?