A Walk in the Woods with Anna Collette HuntFebruary 5, 2014
When we happened upon British artist Anna Collette Hunt’s swarm of thousands of ceramic insects climbing the walls of Nottingham Castle, we had an inkling that her interest in the natural world ran deep. We were rightas a child, Anna curated a museum in her bedroom of her rock, leaf, shell and fossil finds. Hearing that she remains devoted to the outdoorswith her childhood exhibits still tucked under her bedwe asked Anna and her sister Jenna to take us on a walk through their local woodland, which, would you believe, is Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood lore. From her past of playing Maid Marian to Jenna’s Robin Hood to her mushroom foraging present, Anna knows the forest (almost) like the back of her hand. She happily obliged our request, and shared some wonderful stories along the way.
Å“This is the fringe of Sherwood Forest, with the Major Oak just a 20-minute stroll away. I have visited this spot all of my life: as children, my sister, Jenna, and I used to play in the woods here, getting so muddy. My mother would despair at how many hair ribbons we would lose on our adventures in trees and streams!
Å“My sister is great to have along on adventures. She is far more logical and practical than I. When she comes with me we don’t get lost, and she always brings a nice picnic. When I’m alone the paths are sneaky with my sense of direction, and I often get a bit lost and end up very peckish. But secretly I love getting lost, and I often try to sabotage Jenna’s careful navigation.
Å“The forest is incredibly still this time of year, as if it were holding its breath for spring. Even so, Jenna was able to spot badger tracks, lots of bird trails and a mysterious set of paw prints. Jenna thinks it was a fox, but I think it was a wolf.
Å“My walking boots are my favorite shoes, because whenever I put them on I know I’m going to have an adventure.
Å“I’m always on the lookout for treasures from the forest such as mushrooms, berries, pinecones, and interesting twigs or leaves. We were delighted to stumble upon a little cluster of oyster mushrooms, which are my absolute favorite. We also found lots of Turkey Tail fungus, which you can stew to brew a special immune-system-boosting broth, perfect for the winter months.
Å“Sherwood Forest is very old, and you can feel this. When I wade amongst the bracken and ferns I love to hear the whispers of the trees and imagine the sort of stories this forest could tell if it could talk. Sherwood Forest feels far more magical than any other woodland I have visited.