Gwelen is a site-specific artwork for Mount’s Bay by award winning artist Emma Smith and residents of West Penwith. The work consists of 85 sculptures installed along the Penzance-Marazion coastal path.

Hidden in Mount’s Bay lies Cornwall’s largest submerged forest. In the time the forest was established and submerged, humans developed the part of our brains that allows us to imagine things we have not experienced. By the time the forest had disappeared, we had become able to imagine it.

Gwelen offers a series of ‘seeing sticks’ at which to rest and imagine the forest in the bay. Each sculpture is based on a local tree form and has been tailor-made to support the poses and measurements of over 600 residents who contributed drawings of themselves in their ideal resting poses for imagining the forest. Contributors include Marazion Primary School, Gulval School, Humphry Davy School, Penwith Academy, Wild Young Parents Groups, Newlyn Knitters, the Gallery Tea, Cake & Art Group, our after-school art clubs, and residents who responded through open call.

Each work is carved with markings that hint to the geology over which they look. The works are made of wood that reflects the species from the forest and they are treated with a finish that petrifies the wood.

The artwork is accompanied by a series of podcasts made in collaboration with Storylines and local residents and an activity pack made in collaboration with artists Nina Royle, Kitty Hillier, Maya Ronchetti and Verity Birt. The project has included foraging and wood working workshops in collaboration with forager Rachel Lambert and Working Woodlands Cornwall.

Gwelen – Rituals and Practices for Conjuring the Forest

(Free download for personal and educational use.)

Download the book

Download Teacher & Home School Notes


Gwelen visual identity is designed by TWO. Fabrication by Plane Structure.

Gwelen was commissioned by Cornwall Council via the EXPERIENCE project, which promotes experiential tourism and sustainable economic growth during October – March period. Cornwall’s funding supports activities that encourage a sustainable cultural tourism approach, connecting residents and visitors with the distinct historical, geographical and cultural assets of the local area and aims to leave a positive impact for the community and visitors alike. The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme under the Natural and Cultural Heritage funding category.

GWELEN is being installed between Nov 2021 – Jan 2022 with full completion of landscaping in Spring 2022.





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Images from artist-led workshops in collaboration with local forager Rachel Lambert and Working Woodlands Cornwall:

Gwelen foraging workshops in Mount’s Bay, 2021


Gwelen wood working workshops – left: Newlyn Art Gallery, 2021, right: Penwith Academy, 2021