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White Wood Forum

Thur 26 - Fri 27 May, Huntly

Art and Sustainability: Joseph Beuys and Beyond

For millennia, storytellers, musicians, artists and indigenous thinkers have engaged with the sensitive nature of our planet, exploring the complex relationship ecologies and cosmologies have with people and all matter. At the core of all this is a concern for the environment and obtaining peace.

The White Wood Forum is a continuation of thinking about art and ecology begun by Joseph Beuys, whose practice both literally, with acorns from his 7000 Oaks, , and conceptually sowed the seeds for the White Wood. As a living monument to peace, created by the people of Huntly, the wood will grow and change as the oaks mature over the next three hundred years. Working as an artist, pacifist and environmentalist, Beuys’ work acts as a confluence between social and cultural perspectives of sustainability: local and global understandings and lived practices around the world.

Our current eco-political system is designed by and for the very few, resulting in unending conflict and ecological decay. What world can we dream of for future generations? And what contributions can art and community make?

Focusing on the nexus between art, peace and ecology the White Wood Forum will ask how art can be in harmony with the key principles of sustainability, including next to ecology - social justice, grass roots democracy and non-violence. By bringing together people from arts, anthropology, ecology, politics, peacemaking and locality, the White Wood Forum will ask how we can foster a culture of complexity, an art and a community that impacts the future, to the benefit of generations to come.

White Wood Forum

Thurs 26 May
Registration 6.30pm, Ex-Servicemen's Club, Huntly
Prof Tim Ingold: The Sustainability of Everything
7000 Oaks Film presentation by Rhea Thönges-Stringaris
Beuys in the 21st Century discussion:
Rhea Thönges-Stringaris, Richard Demarco and Shelley Sacks

Fri 27 May 9am-7pm, Stewarts Hall, Huntly
Keynote Speaker: Satish Kumar long-term peace and environmental activist
Chair: Deirdre Heddon Prof. Contemporary Practice, University of Glasgow
Speakers: Richard Demarco arts promoter; Loïc Fel Philosopher and Cofounder of The Coalition for art and sustainable development; Georges Thierry Handja Mapping Coordinator at the Rainforest Foundation UK; Elli Harrisson, the Glasgow Effect; Ellie Harrison artist;  Tim Ingold Chair of Social Anthropology, University of Aberdeen; Naomi Mason Huntly Deverlopment Trust; Robin McAlpine Director of Common Weal; Lotte Juul Petersen Wysing Arts Center; Shelley Sacks Prof. Social Sculpture, Oxford Brooks University;  Rhea Thoenges-Stringaris 7000 Oaks Society/Kassel; Marina Velez Cambridge Sustainability Residencies; Caroline Wendling White Wood artist; and others....
Food Artists: Syrian Supper Club; Omar Afif Story: Ben MacFadyan
7pm Peacemakers' Ceilidh with the Strathspey Fiddlers, Gordon Arms Hotel

White Wood Opening Ceremony and Gala day, Sat 28 May. More info here

White Wood Froum SOLD OUT
Peacemaker's Ceildh only: £5
​White Wood Gala: free event

Travel and Accommodation Information

White Wood Map


Chair: Deirdre Heddon is Professor of Contemporary Performance at the University of Glasgow. Chairperson of the Walking Institute steering group, Dee has a long-standing research interest in walking and performance, and has published widely on this topic, as well as creating her own walking practice. She is a contributing author to Walking, Writing and Performance: Autobiographical Texts (2009) and has written extensively about walking and performance. Dee is currently working on a monograph called Performing Landscapes: Forests.

Keynote Speaker: Former monk and long-term peace and environment activist, Satish Kumar has been quietly setting the Global Agenda for change for over 50 years. Inspired in his early 20s by the example of the British peace activist Bertrand Russell, Satish embarked on an 8,000 mile peace pilgrimage. Carrying no money, he walked from India to America, via Moscow, London and Paris to the then leaders of the world's nuclear powers. Satish is editor of Resurgence magazine and guiding spirit behind the Schumacher College in South Devon. His autobiography, No Destination, has sold over 50,000 copies.

Richard Demarco is one of Scotland’s most influential advocates for contemporary art. He co-founded the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh in 1963, and established the Richard Demarco Gallery in 1966. He promotes cross-cultural links by representing international artists within Scotland and commissioned several works, lectures and ‘actions’ from Joseph Beuys. Since the early 1990s his activity has continued through the Demarco European Art Foundation.

Loïc Fel is Chief Sustainability Officer at BETC, the principal French advertising agency, and co-founder of COAL, the Coalition for Art and Sustainable Development. His research into the epistemology of science seeks to define the changes in how nature is perceived in relation to the development of scientific ecology. Convinced that philosophy cannot be summarised in research, he puts his beliefs to the test by implementing sustainable development practices in business.

Georges Thierry Handja (GT) is Mapping Coordinator at the Rainforest Foundation UK, which supports indigenous populations of the world’s rainforests in their efforts to secure rights to land and livelihood. By combining traditional knowledge with sophisticated GIS technologies, GT helps to extend participatory mapping to forest communities all over the Congo Basin, giving remote and disfranchised forest communities a voice, empowering them to express their rights and facilitate their communication with outsiders.

Ellie Harrison is an artist & activist based in Glasgow. Using an array of strategies, Ellie investigates, exposes and challenges the absurd consequences of our capitalist system – particularly climate change. She recently embarked on a project The Glasgow Effect in her home city.

Tim Ingold is Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He has carried out fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, and has written on environment, technology and social organisation in the circumpolar North, on animals in human society, and on human ecology and evolutionary theory. His more recent work explores environmental perception and skilled practice. Tim’s current interests lie on the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. His recent books include The Perception of the Environment, Lines, Being Alive, Making and The Life of Lines.

Naomi Mason is the Project Manager for the Huntly and District Development Trust with a background in environmental community research and a passion for the natural world.

Robin McAlpine is Director of Common Weal, a Scottish ‘think and do tank’ which campaigns for social and economic equality, participative democracy, environmental sustainability, wellbeing, quality of life, peace, justice and cooperation. He has worked for over twenty years in journalism, public affairs, political strategy and policy. He writes for a wide range of sources on Scottish politics.

Lotte Juul Petersen is a curator at Wysing Arts Centre, working across the artistic and public programs. Lotte has been shadow curating the White Wood Forum.

Shelley Sacks was a friend and contemporary of Joseph Beuys and is Professor of Social Sculpture at Oxford Brooks University. Shelley is also founder of the University of the Trees, a global participatory framework that recognises different kinds of thinking and knowledge, and that prioritises experiential knowing.

Rhea Thönges-Stringaris is a founding member of the German Green Party, who worked with Joseph Beuys during Documenta 6, co-founding the Free International University. In the 1980s she was a member of the supervisory board of Documenta, working with Beuys on the 7000 Oaks planting action. Rhea is still on the board of trustees of the 7000 Oaks Foundation in Kassel.

Marina Velez is a multidisciplinary artist based in Cambridge. Marina is the founder and organiser of the Cambridge Sustainability Residency, an annual artist-led project, which brings people together to engage in cross-disciplinary conversations and to think, explore and investigate what sustainability is and the ways it can manifest in artists’ practices.


Omar Afif is a musician, chef and craftsman from Essaouira, Morocco. He is currently in residence with Deveron Arts developing his hospitality project Caravansarai.

Mary Bourne is a sculptor based in rural Moray who works principally in natural stone to find subtle physical forms for poetic ideas. She has created signage and seating in stone for the White Wood.

Ben Macfadyen is a storyteller who has been creating a myth of the White Wood to last 300 years, drawing from the stories of the community of Huntly and the land surrounding the Bin forest. With a background in anthropology, activism and the arts, Ben's work draws from themes of transformation, peace, reconnection and sustainability, and views storytelling as a transformative tool for fostering caring communities and flourishing environments.

The Rhynie Woman are a local artist collective formed by Debbi Beeson and Daisy Williamson.  Through a very particular relationship to the local area, one, which is sensitive to seasons, soil and climate, the Rhynie Woman, make a case for the re-valuing of local plants and produce by providing people with great tasting locally foraged food, unearthing flavours from the landscape.

Syrian Supper Club is a group of Syrians new to Scotland who are developing a enterprise based on middle eastern hospitality.

Caroline Wendling is the artist who has created the White Wood with the community of Huntly in 2015. Originally from the Lorraine, France, Caroline's work explores ideas of place and belonging through a variety of media. 

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