Tag Archives: woodland sculpture

Over 24,000 visit Beacon Hill Sculpture Trail

Over the last few months, parts of the Beacon Hill Country Park have been filled with ‘tree-people’ and various other pieces of sculpture. The ‘Up To The Beacon Sculpture Trail’, created by ArtSpace Loughborough, and a successor to the award-winning ‘Into The Outwoods Sculpture Trail’ that has run in recent years, featured 34 sculptural installations, a ‘geo-timeline’, and over 80 ‘tree-people’. Sadly, the trail has now come to an end, but Nita Rao, who was lead artist for the project, was happy to see so many members of the public walking around the 2.2 km route at the Beacon Hill Country Park, and to read comments about nice days out on the project’s social media channels. “It has been great to talk to people around the trail and during workshops, with visitors finding the work thought provoking as well as enjoyable”.  

The sculpture trail’s Facebook page is full of people tagging their friends and family members, and leaving comments about their experience of the trail. The reception has been really positive, Nita says. One facebook user commented: “We went last week and had a super time. The little [tree] people were great fun to find.” 

Recurring themes of the sculpture trail included the climate crisis and the importance of biodiversity, addressed by numerous pieces of sculpture produced by various artists. Nita’s Don’t look up, an ostrich and ostrich chick, was one example. The adult Ostrich had its head buried in the sand, unwilling to look to the future, while the chick looked up in hope. Fans of the sculpture trail were tasked with suggesting names for the Ostrich chick – Nita chose Hope to reflect the need to boldly face the future and not bury our heads in the sand in light of the climate and ecological crises we face.  

Other works highlighted the importance of biodiversity. Lisa Denham made a beautiful set of small ceramic birds, and, as well as the ostrichs there were albatross, dragonflies, ants, polar bears, bees, snails and slugs, a fox, an adder, a hedgehog, a bird of prey and two shoals of fish – Nita Rao’s Our gift to nature, willow fish filled with plastic from the river Soar, and Shoal by Sarah Green, hanging fish made from wire and cloth. 

Nita Rao’s Polar Bears, symbolically filled with white plastic and perched on small platforms to represent shrinking ice sheets, also provide a warning for the ecological crisis.  

The trail was nestled in the Upper Beacon at the Beacon Hill Country Park, near some of the oldest rock formations in England. The trail also celebrated these rocks, and the Charnwood Forest’s (encompassing the Beacon) attempts to gain UNESCO World Geopark status for the area, as a historically significant area based on its unique geological heritage including the discovery of the ‘Charnia’ fossil there in 1958, one of the oldest pieces of evidence of complex life. 

This was represented by Nita Rao’s willow Charnia, as well as a ‘geotimeline’, A brief timeline for life on earth, produced by Tony Thory (with illustrations from Ingrid Klein-Daniels and Erica Middleton) which described the evolution of life on earth. It highlighted past mass extinctions, the coming and going of the dinosaurs and the emergence of humans, from 560million years ago to the present. The 17 markers around the 2.2 kilometre trail were placed in proportion with the time passed between events. In this vein, each metre walked represented 255,000 years of time, the emergence of homo sapiens appearing only 1.1m from the end of the trail!  

There was also a ‘fascinating fossil day’ on 20 august, featuring workshops where visitors could create small willow ‘Charnia’, paperclay ammonites and fossil fern prints. The day also featured guided walks around the Beacon rocks with Charnwood Forest Geopark geologist Dr Jack Matthews.  

Out of the 34 amazing installations on the trail, some were created in school outreach workshops locally. The Amazing Ants made by Nita Rao and Lisa Denham, using recycled materials, were made with pupils from Cobden Primary, Limehurst and Outwoods Edge Primary. The six giant Dragonflies were made from steel and willow by Nita Rao in workshops at the Rectory Wildlife Garden and Maplewell Hall School. The Wings installation was a collaboration between Lisa Denham and Glebe House Workskills clients.  

The trail was generously supported by grants from Leicestershire County Council, Charnwood Forest Geopark, Intelligent Energy, Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation, Charnwood Arts, Shire Community Grants, the Heritage Fund, Charnwood Borough Council and The National Forest. 

Loughborough ArtSpace, the trail organisers, are pleased to have been able to brighten peoples’ days and help get them out and active in the inspirational Beacon Hill Country Park area. They hope to stage another new trail in summer 2024 or 2025. 

Up to the Beacon Sculpture Trail 2023  – Free and open to all. 10nd June – 17th Sept 2023.  

Up to the beacon sculpture Trail Workshops

Free Workshops at the Sculpture Trail

‘Ways with Words’ – Saturday 24 June from 2.00pm to 4.00pm, ArtSpace member and award-winning writer Mary Byrne will be hosting a creative writing workshop. Suitable for all levels, 13-years plus, booking for this is essential. To book your place please email tony.thory@ntlworld.com.

Drop-in willow weaving workshop – Saturday 22 July
10am – 4pm. Learn to make your own random weave willow sphere with Nita Rao. No need to book, just turn up and get creative!


There will also be a ‘Fascinating Fossil Day’ sometime in August, including free willow workshops and talks by The National Forest Company Geoheritage Officer Dr Jack Matthews. Watch this space for dates and details.

How to find us :

sculpture trail moves to Beacon country park

The renowned ArtSpace sculpture trail will return to Charnwood this June, moving from its previous home of the Outwoods, to Beacon country park. 

‘Up to the Beacon Sculpture trail’, formerly ‘Into the Outwoods Sculpture Trail’, organised by Artspace Loughborough, will open on June 10 and stay in place until September 17. 

The trail, which was run in 2019 and 2022, won Leicestershire Tourism’s ‘Best Free Event of the Year’ award last year. 

This years trail will see a new generation of tree people.

Tony Thory, trail organiser, said: “This summer will see the hugely successful, award-winning woodland sculpture trail reinvented and rising to new heights as it will be staged at The Beacon Country Park for the first time.” 

The Project is being generously supported by Leicestershire County Council’s Shire Grants, The Intelligent Energy Charitable Trust, Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation, Charnwood Arts, The Charnwood Forest Landscape Partnership Scheme, Charnwood Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council’s Parks Department 

Nita Rao, lead artist for the project, said: “We expect there to be over 25 works making up the trail, which will be based on the theme ‘Harmony and Healing for Planet and People’. 

Lisa Denham’s ceramics will feature again this year.

“Much of the sculpture will directly reference issues of climate change, sustainability and ecology. Through these trail works, and the outreach workshop programme at local schools, we aim to raise awareness of the climate emergency and encourage people to think about our place in the natural world. 

“The sculpture trail will encourage people from different backgrounds to come together, be in nature, engage in the creative arts, and learn new skills participating in workshops. These are all well proven ways to improve and develop community as well as supporting improved mental health and emotional well-being.” 

Nita Rao making a giant willow figure.

So come up to the beacon this summer and discover fascinating fossils, amazing ants, a new generation of ‘tree people’ and much more. It is free and open to all, dawn to dusk, at The Beacon Country Park near Loughborough (standard parking charges do apply).  

Up to the Beacon Sculpture Trail 2023 

Free and open to all. 10nd June – 17th Sept 2023.  

Opening times: Dawn to dusk, 7 days a week. Upper Beacon Country Park. 

Outwoods Sculpture Trail sees more than 20,000 visitors !

We have estimated that visitor numbers were well in excess of 20,000 for the 8 weeks that the trail was open. Over 60 visitors took part in willow dragon fly workshops during the jubillee celebration holiday, marking the opening of the trail, and approximately 40 visitors took part in a creative drop-in workshop making flags and messages of hope for the ‘message in a bottle’ installation. Another 42 visitors took part in our ‘find the tree people’ guided walk.

Walk the trail here in photographs and see some of the many visitor comments we have recieved ……

“Wonderful, such fun and very important messages too. Kids love it, especially spotting the Tree People!” – visitor comment.

Jubilee holiday willow dragonfly workshops
Jubilee holiday willow dragonfly workshops
Jubilee holiday willow dragonfly workshops
Jubilee holiday willow dragonfly workshops
Jubilee holiday willow dragonfly workshops
Flag making workshop.


“The horse is stupendous and quite beautiful! It also reminds me of the Narnia creation story illustration, where all the animals grow out of the earth. Its symbolic.”
– visitor comment.

Flag of hope.
Trail start.
Keeper of the Woods – Nita Rao.
Keeper of the Woods – Nita Rao.
70 ‘tree people’ line the route …

“Wonderful to experience sculpture in such a beautiful setting. Inspiring and thought provoking and my two year old grandchild loved looking for the tiny people” – visitor comment.

70 ‘tree people’ line the route …
Spirit of the Woods – Nita Rao.
Spirit of the Woods – Nita Rao.

“What a fabulous opportunity to see these pieces placed in natural woodland. Very inspirational” – visitor comment.

Long tailed tits – Lisa Denham.
Long tailed tits – Lisa Denham.
Long tailed tits – Lisa Denham.
Long tailed tits – Lisa Denham.

“This was wonderful. Attempted on Sunday but far too busy. Had the woods to myself Monday evening. Gorgeous thanks” – visitor comment.

Magpies – Lisa Denham.
Magpies – Lisa Denham.

“We thoroughly enjoyed the sculpture trail and highly recommended friends and family to visit. We thought it was absolutely amazing!! Well done to everyone involved!!” – visitor comment.

Tree creeper – Lisa Denham.
Tree creeper – Lisa Denham.
Taking Root – Nita Rao.
Taking Root – Nita Rao.
Taking Root – Nita Rao.

“Wonderful seeing a very familiar site a fresh. Great for dealing with anxiety. Loved the variety and sensitivity to natural surroundings” – visitor comment.

For the Love of Trees – Pam Everard.
For the Love of Trees – Pam Everard.
For the Love of Trees – Pam Everard.
Creative writing workshop led by Mary Byrne.

“I have visited twice. What a wonderful idea, a walk through a gorgeous wood, filled with sculptures that told a message.The sculptors had done a fabulous job and loved the wood lice with smiley faces! All sorts of facts and messages on the trail pamphlet,well done everyone involved. ” – visitor comment.

70 ‘tree people’ line the route …
Guided ‘tree people’ walk revealing locations of all 70.
70 ‘tree people’ line the route …
70 ‘tree people’ line the route …

“Would be great if the trail can last the whole of the summer holidays” – visitor comment.

Guardian Angel – Nita Rao.

This is worth a visit. We took our pre- teen grandchildren and they had a great time spotting the sculptures especially the small ceramic people perched on branches!

‘Older than Dinosaurs’ – Nita Rao.
‘Older than Dinosaurs’ – Nita Rao.
‘Older than Dinosaurs’ – Nita Rao.
‘Older than Dinosaurs’ – Nita Rao.

“Amazing trail, look above eye level, not to miss small peaple !” – visitor comment.

Replenish – Erica Middleton.
Replenish – Erica Middleton.
Replenish – Erica Middleton.
Replenish – Erica Middleton.

“That’s wonderful been round once but would like to go around again. We can now the time as been extended shame it’s not until August.” – visitor comment

Ebb and Flow – Alison Folland.
Ebb and Flow – Alison Folland.
Ebb and Flow – Alison Folland.

Had a lovely visit today – wonderful sculptures.” – visitor comment.

70 ‘tree people’ line the route …
Intrusion – Nita Rao.
Intrusion – Nita Rao.
Intrusion – Nita Rao.
Intrusion – Nita Rao.

“Well done to all for all the amazing work ” – visitor comment.👏

“It’s brilliant we have been twice and will probably go again😃 thank you.x” – visitor comment.

Wonderful Woodlice! – co-created by Nita Rao and Lisa Denham, and students from Outwoods Edge and Cobden Primary Schools.
Wonderful Woodlice! – co-created by Nita Rao and Lisa Denham, and students from Outwoods Edge and Cobden Primary Schools.
Wonderful Woodlice! – co-created by Nita Rao and Lisa Denham, and students from Outwoods Edge and Cobden Primary Schools.
Wonderful Woodlice! – co-created by Nita Rao and Lisa Denham, and students from Outwoods Edge and Cobden Primary Schools.

“Well done! My first visit was on Monday but I failed to spot many tree people! Tony must hidden them well! We didn’t find Holly either even though I was sure the dog would spot her! He was totally taken in by the swans and gave them a look as if he expected them to hiss at any moment.” – visitor comment.

Bird of Prey – Lisa Denham.
Bird of Prey – Lisa Denham.

“We have been 3 times now it’s lovely the grandchildren only found 51 tree people but I do think that was good for a 4 & 7 year old.👍👏👏👏When will we be able to purchase one please or 2 !!😃😘” – visitor comment.

Woodland Web – Judith Eason.
Woodland Web – Judith Eason.
Woodland Web – Judith Eason.
Woodland Web – Judith Eason.

“I loved all of it. Couldn’t wait till July, needed to see it as soon as possible. Hope you get chance to have it for 2023. Told my friends all about it ❤️❤️❤️” – visitor comment.

One’s Favourite – Jo Sheppard.
One’s Favourite – Jo Sheppard.
One’s Favourite – Jo Sheppard.
One’s Favourite – Jo Sheppard.

“Can I just say thank you very much to you and your team for organising it. It’s such a lovely thing & myself & my family have loved seeing all the sculptures back in the woods again. Well done!” – visitor comment.

Owl – Lisa Denham.

“Fabulous day out – the grandchildren had such fun looking for the little men – took us about 2.5hrs to get round- very educational as well – we allLoved it.” – visitor comment.

Think – Sally Reayer.
Think – Sally Reayer.
Think – Sally Reayer.
Think – Sally Reayer.
Think – Sally Reayer.
Think – Sally Reayer.
‘Holly’ – Lisa Denham.
Polar Bears – Nita Rao.
Polar Bears – Nita Rao.
Polar Bears – Nita Rao.
Polar Bears – Nita Rao.
Polar Bears – Nita Rao.

“Loved this ❤️ fantastic and thank you to all involved 👏👏” – visitor comment.

Aspire – Nita Rao.
Aspire – Nita Rao.
Aspire – Nita Rao.

“It does look amazing !!! xx” – visitor comments.

The Queen’s Swans – Lisa Denham.
The Queen’s Swans – Lisa Denham.
The Queen’s Swans – Lisa Denham.
The Queen’s Swans – Lisa Denham.

“Can it not stay until winter, many people still want to see it.” – visitor comment.

Tides of Change – Nita Rao.
Tides of Change – Nita Rao.
Tides of Change – Nita Rao.

“I visited with a friend today, and what a great time we had. The free entry makes it accesible for all, adults, children and dogs can enjoy the trail. It gives out good messages to all ages,or just makes for a pleasant walk under the gorgeous trees. I would love to have the opportunity to buy a little man or a long tailed tit, it would be a chance to put a little money back into the pot. Thank you for a lovely day .” – visitor comment.

Message in a Bottle – Nita Rao.
Message in a Bottle – Nita Rao.
Message in a Bottle – Nita Rao.
Message in a Bottle – Nita Rao.
Message in a Bottle – Nita Rao.

“Took our two granddaughters lots of fun looking for the clay men in the trees & the sculpturesWell worth a visit.” – visitor comment.

Open Cycle – Nita Rao.
Open Cycle – Nita Rao.

“We went today, well done 👏it was amazing!” – visitor comment.

70 Flags for 70 Years – Susheel Rao.
70 Flags for 70 Years – Susheel Rao.
70 Flags for 70 Years – Susheel Rao.
70 Flags for 70 Years – Susheel Rao.
70 Flags for 70 Years – Susheel Rao.
Shoal – Sarah Green.
Shoal – Sarah Green.
Shoal – Sarah Green.
Shoal – Sarah Green.

“It’s brilliant really hope you do more things like this 😀” – visitor comment.

Queen bee and her workers – Nita Rao, Alison Folland and Maplewell Hall School pupils.
Queen bee and her workers – Nita Rao, Alison Folland and Maplewell Hall School pupils.
Queen bee and her workers – Nita Rao, Alison Folland and Maplewell Hall School pupils.
Queen bee and her workers – Nita Rao, Alison Folland and Maplewell Hall School pupils.
Queen bee and her workers – Nita Rao, Alison Folland and Maplewell Hall School pupils.
Queen bee and her workers – Nita Rao, Alison Folland and Maplewell Hall School pupils.

“We loved it, thank you” – visitor comment.

INTO THE OUTWOODS SCULPTURE TRAIL 2022

JUNE 2ND – JULY 24TH 2022

ArtSpace invite you to come down to the Outwoods between 2nd june and 24th July to discover the 70 tree people lining the 1¼ mile woodland trail, encounter willow bees and dragonflies, the Queen’s horse, ceramic birds and giant woodlice … and much more. The trail will celebrate biodiversity and explore concerns about habitat loss and the climate emergency. We are also celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the 70 years of the Queens guardianship of the people and lands of the UK as part of our project theme ‘Harmony and Healing for Planet and People’ .

The trail is open to all, dawn to dusk, and entry is free.

Free Workshops

‘Trailing Words’: a creative writing workshop – Saturday 25th June 2 – 4 pm. Be inspired by the art on the trail! Creative writing workshop with artist and prize-winning author, Mary Byrne. Suitable for all levels 13 yrs plus. You will need to bring paper or notebook, pen and something to lean on.e.g. a clipboard, and a folding chair will be very useful. Booking essential, see below.

Make Flags of Hope : 11 am -4 pm Sunday 26th June : make textile flags and messages to add to the ‘message in a bottle’ sculpture by Nita Rao in the heart of the woodland trail. Drop-in workshop – no need to book – just turn up and get creative!

To book your place please email me at tony.thory@ntlworld.com or call/text 07786 857530. Let us know how many adults and children you want to book in and for which sessions. Thank you.

Very sorry but all Dragonfly workshops are now fully booked !

Come along and make your own willow dragonfly at these free workshops in the crook barn next to the main Outwoods car park 2pm-4pm on the afternoons of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of June. All materials provided. Suitable for all levels. Booking essential.

People of the Trees – Nita Rao

The Outwoods Sculpture Trail goes Platinum!

The Into the Outwoods Sculpture Trail 2022 will open on 2nd June to mark the Platinum Jubilee and help celebrate 70 years of the Queen’s guardianship of the people and lands of the UK.

So ArtSpace invite you to come down to the Outwoods between 2nd june and 24th July to discover the 70 tree people lining the 11⁄4 mile woodland trail, encounter willow bees and dragonflies, the Queen’s horse, ceramic birds and giant woodlice … and much more. The trail will celebrate biodiversity and explore concerns about habitat loss and the climate emergency.

Success with Platinum Jubilee funding from the ‘Let’s Create’ Arts Council scheme means a more substantial trail with more artwork and free willow workshops on the afternoons of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of June, to coincide with other jubilee celebrations. So come along and make your own willow dragonfly at these free workshops (booking via the ArtSpace website essential).

Installation work has begun !

The National Forest have also stepped up to help make this happen by awarding an ‘Arts Grant’ to fund some of the artist’s commissions. They are also funding a public workshop in the woods, free to participants, making ‘flags of hope’ to add to the ‘message in a bottle’ sculpture. This will be a drop-in workshop, so just turn up and get creative. Dates will be posted on the ArtSpace website.

In addition, the public have generously contributed to a ‘just giving’ page to fund more Sculpture commissions. This means the trail will have more than 25 works and co-created sculpture.

Shire Grants and the National forest award funding !

We are very pleased to announce that ArtSpace have been successful with funding bids to Leicestershire County Council’s Shire Grants and The National Forest’s Arts Grants for the 2022 Outwoods Sculture Trail.

Into The Outwoods Sculpture Trail 2022 is based on the theme ‘Harmony and Healing for Planet and People’. Much of the sculpture will directly reference issues of climate change, sustainability and ecology. Through these trail works, and the outreach workshop programme, we aim to raise awareness of the climate emergency and encourage people to think about our place in the natural world.

Felting workshop at the 2019 trail.

The Shire Grant funding will enable us to work with local schools and vulnerable groups to co-create work for the woodland trail. Mapelwell Hall School, Cobden School, Glebe House, the Wellbeing Café, and Albert Street Artists are all taking part. We aim to provide a vehicle for creative practice to help improve mental health and well being for the participants.

Funding from The National Forest Arts Grants will enable us to commission inspiring work for the trail, work with an additional school and run drop-in workshops for the public. 

Clay workshop at the 2019 trail.

The sculpture trail will encourage people from different backgrounds to come together, be and walk in nature, engage in the creative arts and learn new skills participating in workshops. These are all well proven ways to improve and develop relationships between participants as well as supporting improved mental health and emotional well-being.

We want to encourage people to visit the natural woodland environment and create a meaningful experience for them there so that they look on the woodland as a sanctuary in difficult times, enhancing a sense of place and where, through art, we can all make connections with our social and environmental context, with other people and with the natural world.

Willow workshop at the 2019 trail.
Willow workshop at the 2019 trail.

Into The Outwoods 2022 Sculpture Trail will be open from June 2nd to July 24th. It is free and open to all, dawn to dusk, at The Outwoods near Loughborough.