The Fantastical Forest marches on Westminster

Earth Day this year, Saturday 22nd April,  saw 90 volunteers help to march the full collection of Fantastical Forest hangings to Westminster. First held in 1970, this annual event now involves over 1 billion people in more than 193 countries demonstrating support for environmental protection. The day was a remarkable celebration of community and cohesion with over 60,000 people of all ages gathered peacefully but determinedly to remind those in Westminster of the work needed to protect our planet. 

Working with the Cambridge XR group and other local conservation groups and colleagues including Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Cambridge Resilience, we were overwhelmed by the support of this passionate army who joined us for the day. Each of the 78 hangings was carefully mounted onto bamboo canes and carried aloft for 3 hours, creating a sea of fantastical trees and creatures moving as one along the Westminster streets.  The event ended with a ‘die-in’ as the crowd of 60,000 people fell silent and lay down in the street, bringing a careful moment of sombreness to what had otherwise felt like a day of joy and optimism. 

  • I love these banners. Every one of them is absolutely beautiful and unique and….I think I’m going to cry….it’s really important to let their voices come into this march. We need to carry their voices like this. I just love their art work. I think most of it should be in the Tate.

  • We are here today to show people that climate change really matters and that every one could make a difference if we all work together. Something small can make a huge difference.

  • I am here today because of hope. There's a lot of despair and fear and what we are doing here right now is amplifying children's voices, artist's voices, showing a future that's possible . . . not just necessary. This is the kind of world I want to live in. Its not even an individual identity it's a community identity. It feels like we are one and becoming much bigger than ourselves through this creative activism.

With thanks to: all the volunteers who carried their hangings with such care; CCI artist Susanne Jasilek and Dr Zoe Moula for creating such a powerful legacy from the event in the form of the film; XR Cambridge and Cambridge Carbon Footprint who supported transport and materials; Derek Langley and Jerry Skeet for images and film clips; Patrick Morris, Hilary Cox Condron, Portia Rosenberg and Carey Bennet who agreed this was a great idea and worked with Ruth to make it happen.