Creating In The Great Outdoors

We were lucky enough to be given the chance to create playful spaces in our local woodlands. This was as part of the Stronger Roots project with Buxton Civic Association. We have installations in the woodlands around Buxton.

A view of Gadley Woods with blue skies
Gadley Woods

The idea of creating in the great outdoors is always inspiring. The sets for our show are very temporary, so the opportunity to make something more permanent was exciting and challenging. After several site visits, we designed simple elements that would spark imagination and provoke thought. Each woodland is unique, so we decided on original designs for each space.

Gadley Woods

In Gadley Woods, we designed boards with cut outs of woodland creatures and made a huge nestlike structure with fallen trees. Corbar Woods saw the subtle installation of small wooden doors with animal footprints carved on the front of each one. Also, you can discover the two lovingly crafted benches near the forest school area in Grin Low Woods.

Two people sit on a wooden bench in GrinLow Woods with a black dog sniffing in the undergrowth

The brief stipulated no colour, so what we made highlighted the natural beauty of the patterns of the wood. The concept behind the design was to create windows into the forever changing landscape of the woodland. We set to work drawing outlines of familiar creatures and then transferred them to oak boards and cut them out using a jigsaw. The edges were rounded off and then everything was sanded. We then gave the boards a Japanese style finish called Shou Sugi Ban before coating them with Danish oil.

A collection of photos that show the outlines of animals cut out of oak planks

Never have I worked with such beautiful pieces of wood. Usually, we only work with cheap quality timber, old pallets, or plywood. What a privilege!

A group of photos that show wooden boards with animal cutouts in Gadley Woods
Gadley Woods

Corbar Woods

The little doors were fun to make. A simple idea of an animal footprint carved into the front of each door. We burnt the wood and then sanded back the footprint.

Installations in the woodlands of small wooden doors with animal prints carved on the front
Corbar Woods

We made a couple of signs using a template and a router and then used the burning technique we used on the large oak boards. A Dremel sanding tool was then used to take the wood back, so the lettering was more prominent.

A group of photos showing how the signs were made

Grin Low Woods

The benches were more of a design challenge. After chatting with the children who attended the forest school, Mark came up with a few sketches, trying to incorporate their ideas. The original site changed,and so we installed two benches on opposite sides of the pathway.

Sketch of a bench design that has a curved back and seats with leaf shapes cut out on the backrest

The result? A beautifully crafted seat we hope will bring smiles to all who use it. It’s been joyous to create installations in the woodlands, something that has a lasting legacy for the people who use Buxton Woods. May you and your families enjoy these beautiful outdoor spaces.

bench installations in GrinLow Woods
GrinLow Woods