Epping Forest Artist Residency - Marion Sidebottom

Marion Sidebottom

Photographer & Artist

Epping Forest Artist Residency

You Can't See the Trees for the Woods!

I am an artist and photographer based in Essex and am currently Artist in Residence at the City of London’s Epping Forest from April 2017 to March 2018. My project is called “You Can’t See the Trees for the Woods!”. A key aim of the project is to explore how visual images can engage people’s interest in ancient trees and the forest by showing them from many different viewpoints. I hope that my work encourages people to view important trees within the forest not only as valuable assets to the environment but also for their cultural value to people on a personal level. I am writing to document my journey and will be tweeting and posting on Facebook about the project. Later I will be encouraging you, the public, to share stories via an Online Storybook and Gallery.

Short Film from BBC London News

Ancient Beech Trees in Spring Gallery

Ancient Tree Portraits in Sepia Gallery

I have been working with Dr Jeremy Dagley, the Head of Conservation, to identify and take photographic portraits of the keystone trees around Epping Forest at a point in time before they undergo environmental change. Keystone trees were originally chosen by staff at Epping Forest due to criteria such as their ancient age and ecological importance.

These portraits were created as two collections and many were exhibited at the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge next to the The View Visitor Centre from the 13th to 16th July 2017. The exhibition coincided with the Ancient Tree Forum summer conference which was hosted at Epping Forest and the signing of a Concordat with the City Corporation which aims to protect ancient trees. I have a collection of ancient Beech tree landscapes in Spring which aim to show how beautiful the forest landscape can be, but with the emphasis on the quirky nature of some of the trees. I also have a collection of ancient tree portraits in Sepia which I hope are reminiscent of Victorian postcards. These have a faded background so that the character, shape and form of the trees stand out. This project is ongoing and I will be adding more images and collections through the year as I explore more of the forest.

The exhibition was dedicated to the memory of my late Uncle John who passed away a few weeks before at the age of 63. He inspired me to consider my impact on the environment and to respect and care for nature from a very young age and I thank him for this.


From late July onwards I will be spending time with different user groups of the forest ranging from scientists to dog walkers and collecting stories and images of their favourite ancient trees for an online storybook and gallery, culminating with an exhibition in March 2018. I hope to gain insights into the forest from historical, cultural, environmental, educational and recreational perspectives. I am grateful to Arts Council England for their financial support and to the staff of Epping Forest for their help and encouragement with the project, without which I could not follow my dreams and passion for photographing trees.

You can share your images and stories with me about ancient trees in Epping Forest in a number of different ways, some of these will be included in the final exhibition:

Instagram use #ICanSeeTheTrees, upload an image with brief comment/story and I will check out your images and create an online gallery

Tweet me @MarionSide and @CoLEppingForest and use the hashtag #ICanSeeTheTrees

Facebook @Marionseye post your images & stories as a visitor direct to my Facebook page


Blog about my artist residency at Epping Forest

Find out more about Epping Forest

Arts Council England