Under a Canopy
Artist Alison Carlier has developed an audio guide to lead you through the Rhododendron Wood on Leith Hill. The guide encourages you to reflect on your surroundings and pause to mindfully examine your environment.
Wellbeing in the Woods
Being out in the woods is good for your health whatever the time of year. A brisk romp through the trees during winter to get your heart pounding and your blood racing not only helps your physical health, but relieves stress and so can improve your mental health too. Even better you can download and listen to this audio guide to help raise your awareness of the nature around you and the peace it can instil.
Meet the artist
Alison Carlier studied Drawing at Wimbledon College of Art and Fine Art at the Surrey Institute of Art & Design and has since fostered a fascination with sound, winning the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2014 with her audio piece 'Adjectives, lines and marks'. For this work on Leith Hill Alison has delved into the realm of mindfulness and wellbeing and the impact that being outside in nature can have on our mental health. Her previous work as an Occupational Therapist has informed the choice of location and language. Find out more about Alison.
Learning from the past
It is thought that the Rhododendron Wood was planted around the 1850s whilst the Wedgwood family were owners of the estate. In particular, credit is given to Caroline Wedgwood, wife of Josiah Wedgwood III. The Wedgwoods would have chosen to plant their garden at this site to enjoy the far reaching views across the estate. They also created many meandering paths to encourage their visitors to explore further. As well as the many varieties of Rhododendron, which bloom in May and June, many notable trees were also planted including a magnificent tulip tree in the parkland and several giant redwoods.
An inspirational space
The audio guide features music by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, who grew up at Leith Hill Place and gifted the estate to the National Trust in 1945. Many of his works reflect the peace and beauty of nature. In particular his ever-popular 'The Lark Ascending' encourages visitors to take time to stop and listen to the simple notes reflecting larks in flight. For the audio work Alison has used 'The Phantasy Quintet' performed by Garfield Jackson and the Maggini Quartet in 2001.
A walk for all seasons
Whilst the Woods look most stunning in May and June once the Rhododendrons are in full bloom, the woodland planting also lends itself to a visit at other times of the year. In October the autumn colours fill the woodland, and on a frosty January morning the stillness and peace are most striking. The artist Alison Carlier was keen to ensure visitors could enjoy the audio guide in all seasons, so created a summer and winter version. You can download both below.