5 minutes with Hayley Skipper

Hayley Skipper, Curator of Arts Development for the Forestry Commission England Lady of the Water by Alannah Robins (1995) - Grizedale Forest Sculpture Some Fern by Kerry Morrison (1997) - Grizedale Forest Sculpture Romeo by Rupert Ackroyd & Owen Bullet (sited 2013) - Grizedale Forest Sculpture Cliff Structure by Richard Harris (1977) - Grizedale Forest Sculpture Concrete Country by Lucy Tomlins (sited 2012) - Grizedale Forest Sculpture

Introducing 5 minutes with… Hayley Skipper..

Who is… Curator of Arts Development for the Forestry Commission England.

Tell us more… I’m based here at Grizedale Forest and essentially curate the sculpture programme, alongside leading Forestry Commission England’s national arts programme Forest Art Works. Grizedale Forest as the first forest for sculpture in the UK is an ideal spot to develop the various projects which we pilot here and that can then potentially be showcased at other Forestry Commission locations.

Why is this special to you… I trained in sculpture for my first degree, so this place is very close to my heart. Grizedale Forest offers artists a rare experimental opportunity to make and present new work within the context of an outdoor environment. It is an artist-centred approach allowing artists the unique circumstances to directly experience the forest and incorporate this landscape into their practice. This is a creative space, integrating forest and art, that is part of the distinctive ethos here at Grizedale Forest. Artists and visitors alike are invited to immerse themselves in the forest – everything that happens is in the context of the forest environment, providing amazing views and sensory experiences that offer a genuinely unique and unusual proposition!

What can audiences expect… Here at Grizedale Forest everything is imbued with a sense of exploration. The expansive landscape beckons visitors to seek out the farthest corners of the forest, so for a great day of adventure kit yourself out for a hike or cycle ride and be prepared to hunt for sculptures in this extensive and enticing woodland landscape – and remember to bring a picnic!

If you could name only 3 unmissable cultural hot spots or events in the Lakes – what would they be…

Firstly, launching this year from 18 – 20 September is the incredible AND Festival, a digital art extravaganza, which includes the fantastic new commission by Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) – In the Eyes of the Animal – an immersive virtual reality experience, told by the inhabitants of the forest! AND stands for Abandon Normal Devices and there will be lots of new projects that use digital technology to explore the forest’s unique, and often hidden, ecology.

Secondly, I would have to choose Art Gene, a fantastic artist-led company who creatively journey into the less explored areas of Cumbria and have worked on a variety of fascinating projects, producing beautiful maps relating to the Islands of Barrow and Morecambe Bay and presently are working on a West Coast based art venture with Sustrans ‘Tracks of the Iron Coast’, whereby people have a chance to go on a selection of trails with the artists.

Finally, I would pick the Wordsworth Trust’s ‘Wild Walks on Wednesdays‘ – an ideal family outdoor adventure in and around the grounds of the idyllic Dove Cottage, which was home to William Wordsworth and his family in 1799; these wonderful walks offer a chance to find out more about the plant specimens and wildlife there as well as sample the incredible views!

In a nutshell how would you describe the cultural offer in the Lakes… There’s a very special character to the Lake District and many different generations of artists have been inspired by this. It is a space of reflection and a special place to explore, with incredible views and an abundance of fresh air. I would recommend to everyone to visit the Lake District at least once in their life – a word of warning though… you might fall in love with it and keep coming back!

And after a cultural adventure in the Lakes, where would be your ideal place to eat or stay… For me it would have to be al fresco dining on a picnic blanket with a spread of fine Cumbrian fare! There is amazing produce in the Lake District, so ideally I would pitch camp and stock up my picnic hamper with local delicacies.

If I were staying at the Grizedale Forest campsite, I would head over to Hawkshead, on the northern edge of Grizedale Forest, and pop in to The Honeypot and the Hawkshead Relish Company to gather a selection of delicious supplies. Cumbria also has a very impressive array of breweries, so for a taste of local beer there is of course the Hawkshead Brewery and for a perfect watering hole, located just a mile from the Grizedale Forest Visitor Centre, there is The Eagles Head which have a great selection of beer on tap – including Hawkshead!

For a special combination of food and culture I also love Fellinis in Ambleside, their ‘Vegeterranean’ menu combined with the latest arthouse screening in their beautiful studio cinema is perfect for a special night out.

And we just have to ask.. if you could choose one view in the Lakes where would that be… It has to be the view from Carron Crag. This is the highest point in Grizedale Forest, it’s a modest trek and you are well-rewarded with a spectacular 360° view. Weather permitting you can see all of the Wainwrights to the west and north and out to the west coast beyond, across to the Pennines, Morecambe Bay to the south and on a clear day it is even possible to spot Blackpool Tower!

Find out more about Grizedale: the UK’s Unique Forest for Sculpture

To enjoy these Lakes cultural events and much more, book your break in the Lake District here