Chrys Allen (UK)

A Forest of Dreams

A Forest of Dreams was created as part of a series of workshops devised by UK artist Chrys Allen.

Maps are essential to the art of walking: They inspire us to travel far afield. Cartographers of old would combine observation with imagination, and this is how we continue to read maps . We enjoy the delight and sense of adventure they embody and the stories they tell. Ancient maps would include routes and landmarks but also incorporate elements that might enhance the narrative; adding islands, hills and creatures; information on what ‘could’ be there, and with no proof otherwise, why not?

In the self same spirit of adventure and discovery, Unelmien metsä shows that whilst the roads of Koli remain, what lies between them in the forest and lakes is in the hearts, imagination and dreams of school children. Koli is no stranger to story telling and myths. It is part of its heritage.

As in days of old when explorers would be accompanied by artists and scientists (whose role it was to record observed ‘species’ of special interest), the school children have also observed the native ’species’ of Koli; their research has incorporated everything from wild flowers to man made machinery.

Unelmien metsä tells tales of kings, monsters, and fast food and why not? Who know what lies beyond the hiking trails and what the future might bring.

The project was implemented together with Koli school.


A Forest of Dreams – a series of workshops facilitated by Chrys Allen at Kolin Koulu

Unelmien metsä – By Kolin koulu

Day 1

A chat , by way of an introduction, about maps .What do we find in maps? Why do we have maps? What do they tell us? What makes them interesting?

We can use our imagination when looking at maps , we combine our imagination with observation

Map making activity (see koulu journey photos)
Close our eyes and recall our journey to school. Start drawing with eyes closed, the line recording our journey to school, the ups, downs, and corners; the fast and the slow traveling speed.
With eyes open, add/draw in the landmarks of sights and sounds remembered from that journey.
These long drawings were put together as a network of pathways and roads to create a new map . Our first collaborative map.

2nd map making activity. Taking a line for a walk
following on from the first ‘blind’ line drawing
A chat about walking maps and their contours, traveling up and down hill and the gentle curves of a line to describe undulations and hills.

With eyes close we trace a journey around our face with our finger tip.(left hand) We continue to do this while with our right hand we simultaneously draw this exact same journey, a self portrait as a line map, as if we have never traveled our face before. With eyes open we add the names of ‘landmarks’ and places of interest.

Day 2

A chat about old maps telling tales of adventure and discovery followed by a slide show of early maps/research (see research photo) , illustrating how they would combine observation with imagination (as discussed in day 1 ). Cartographers of old would note their routes and what they saw but also use their imagination to fill the gaps – adding islands, hills and information on what ‘could’ be there, with no proof otherwise, why not?

Often explorers would be accompanied by artists and scientists these researches would record observed ‘species’ and things of special interest.

Unelmien metsä would do all the above – the trails, paths and roads of Koli would remain while the gaps between would be filled with our imagination. Plus, in the spirit of scientific research, we too would record the different species and points of interest – be they flowers or machines (8 drawings per research paper).

A grid of squared paper 6×7 squares (20cm each square) makes the blank background to our map. A map of Koli is projected onto this, each participant has 2 map references selected from a lucky dip (eg 7C and 2A) these are their section of the map.
Each individual traces the roads using the projection (see Koulu working projection). The map is now lots of squares with line drawings (see koulu squares photo)

Participants decide what species they might research. flowers, cars, forest food etc

Day 3

Each square becomes its own story of adventure and discovery with tales of kings, monsters and volcanoes…… why not?
(See koulu. working photos)
The squares go back on the wall at the end of the day so that they can be reviewed when we arrive tomorrow.

Day 4

Research papers are completed. (see koulu, research photos)
We review the map in progress.
One team checks what needs adding to the map – clearer roads etc,
One team is responsible for the text for the map
One team is responsible for creating the decorative boarder for the title (see borders photos.
These older participants make decisions about the overall design, the orientation, the borders, typeface etc.

Day 5

I created a mock up of what the final map might look like, this is projected onto the wall to scale A quick wrap -up chat and the work is done.
The sun is out, we go outside and enjoy the rest of the day.