Forest stories

Artist Ellie Wilson (credit Michelle Foulser)
Artist Ellie Wilson (credit Michelle Foulser)

Musician Ellie Wilson on her sound installation inspired by Epping Forest

I’ve spent hours wandering around Epping Forest this year, and when I’ve not been there I’ve mainly been thinking about the forest, reading about its incredible history, and enthusing about it to anyone who shows the vaguest interest.

This is not a new pastime. I grew up in Highams Park and the forest has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I learned to ride my bike at Connaught Water, went on school trips to the Suntrap Centre and hung out there with my teenage friends. Now it’s a place I go to escape the speed of the city for a few hours and enjoy nature.

A collection of new compositions, written as part of my artist residency at Epping Forest, was inspired by the human impact on our ancient forest through the centuries; Iron Age hill forts, Second World War bomb craters that are now ponds, and my ancestor Thomas Willingale – a local labourer who helped save the forest during the enclosures of the 1800s.

The work explores themes of lost and fragmented memories, lingering traces of the past and spirit of place, and includes a self-penned folk song, field recordings, and a graphic score based on a 19th Century map of the Iron Age Loughton Camp.

You can experience my new work Echoes: Unearthing Stories of the Forest as a free sound installation at The View visitor centre in Chingford, on the edge of Epping Forest. This project is linked to the Borough of Culture season, The People’s Forest, curated by Luke Turner and Kirsteen McNish.

Echoes: Unearthing Stories of the Forest runs until Sunday 5th January 2020 at The View, Rangers Road, Chingford E4 7QH. For more information: