Sunday Feature: Autumn Forest

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough enters the forests of our imagination, looking for stories. Alternative realities, holy quests and fairytales hidden among the glories of the Autumn forest. Despite our evolution in the African rainforests, Eleanor wonders whether it is tales from the frozen North that have given us the most potent forests of the imagination, invading our psyche, inhabiting our stories, inspiring our architecture. Legendary fairytale guru Jack Zipes introduces us to the darker side of the Black Forest, the central point of European folklore. Eleanor travels to Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden, part real, part imagined – a forest full of magic and mystery, where we can become better versions of ourselves. We hear tales from the vast frozen Taiga forest, encircling the world in the North. And in the African rainforest we meet early hominids as they flit in and out of the trees, watching the forest biology shaping what we are and the stories we tell. On the way we see the strange reality of the forest itself communicating. And as darkness falls, our imagination takes over as we spend a moonlit night in the New Forest, high in an oak tree, in the company of ravens, owls and deer.