Forest Head listens in

Nine years after it was first installed, a much-loved sculpture at Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland has finally grown a pair of ears!

The giant, all-seeing and all-hearing Silvas Capitalis, a play on the Latin for ‘Forest Head', is an artwork in the form of a large head that is big enough for walkers and cyclists to get inside and take shelter from the elements.

Visitors enter through its mouth and climb upstairs for a different perspective on the surrounding countryside, literally getting inside its head.  A recent upgrade to the sculpture has seen the addition of new ‘ear trumpets' so that as well as looking out through the eyes, visitors can also now sit and listen to the amplified sounds of the forest.

Designed and upgraded by American artists' collective SIMPARCH, the huge timber head is made from 3,000 specially shaped pieces which are glued and pegged together without the use of screws.  Working with the same larch timber that the main head is made from, its new ears take the form of trumpets protruding into the head's interior.

Visitors will also find small seats inside the head, created by local forester Simon Banks who worked with SIMPARCH on the project, to make the experience of looking and listening more comfortable.

Kielder Art & Architecture Curator Peter Sharpe said: "Since its installation in 2009, visitors have been able to get a unique perspective on the surrounding countryside by looking out of the eyes of the Forest Head. The addition of the ears will provide an enhanced experience of the sounds of the forest - the rustling of leaves, murmur of wind in the trees and the calling of birds and wildlife. People can also shout through the ear trumpets - which also act as amplifiers - to their friends below. It's a fantastic way for visitors to try something different as they experience all that the forest has to offer"

SIMPARCH's Steve Badgett said "We made the head as a monolithic watcher or representative of the forest. The addition of the ears offers visitors a different perceptual experience with an emphasis on the aural aspects of being in this man-made, yet enchanting, environment."

The addition of the Forest Head ears has by supported by Arts Council England using public money from the Government and the National Lottery.

Forest Head listens in