Science, art and a sprinkling of fairy dust
Illustration: Kate Shields

Illustration: Kate Shields

Welcome to the Forest of Thoughts: a world where you can separate the wood from the trees, ponder whether a tree really falls down if no one hears it and see your ideas grow from tiny acorns into mighty oak trees.

The Forest of Thoughts was created in 2011, to stimulate scientific thought and creative play. So far, we’ve run arts, crafts and science events in Brighton, Suffolk and Tunbridge Wells, including jelly baby wave machines, lost-glove teddy-bear making, fairytale peg doll making, dinosaur towel origami and a lot more besides.

This year, the Forest of Thoughts will be creating the Garden of Love at Latitude Festival: a crafting garden allowing people to swap skills through the trellis of trades, take part in a collaborative collage to help create utopia, or simply take a break from the festival and enjoy some colouring in. Artists and scientists; talkers and thinkers; skeptics and magicians, all are welcome in the Forest of Thoughts.

garden of delightA3
cirque de cabaret 2

Step into the Garden…

It’s been a busy year for Forest of Thoughts. After a fantastic White Night, it was on to Brighton Science Festival where our events included such delights as calorie-free cakes in balloons, dinosaur towel origami, the science of illusion and the ever-popular miracle berries (that turn your tastebuds upside-down making sour things taste sweet). Over 2,000 people have experienced the joys of the Forest of Thoughts so far – and if you haven’t already entered the Forest, now’s your chance…

We’ve been asked to take part in the Latitude Festival, with burlesque doll making out of vintage gloves and old tights (on Saturday night as part of the Alternative Village Fete.) And even more excitingly, we have a series of events planned at the Blind Tiger, the first of which are only a month away. By day it’s for kids, by night it all gets a little more adult. Tickets are now available from Eventbrite – our science festival shows all sold out so get your tickets now to avoid disappointment.

The Garden of Delights

10th June 12pm-6pm

Grow your horizons and taste the fruits of wisdom in the Garden of Delights. Make seedbombs, plant seedlings and learn plant magic in the Sorcerer’s Shed, with Josie Jeffreys of http://www.seedfreedom.net (author of SeedBombs) Stitch butterflies and rosebuds, fold origami flowers, make wool bees and let your crafty side blossom in the Fairy Circle. Share a teddy bear’s picnic and make your own toys with Crafternoon. Meet the Gastrognome and learn fairyland cooking secrets, with magical food to confound your senses. With grow-your-own and foraging tips, local produce and magical surprises, see how you grow in the Garden of Delights.

Tickets £2 adults, £1 children (7+) plus pay as you play for selected activities. Children must be accompanied by an adult and supervised at all times. Buggy park available but space limited so avoid bringing buggies unless essential.

The Garden of Desires

10th June 8pm-late

You’ve never known temptation like it until you step inside the Garden of Desires. Professor Elemental will take you by the hand and lead you through a multitude of sins. Lust over the twinkling stars of the burlesque and boylesque scene, including Coco De Ville, Mick Wunderlich and Luxury Values.Show off your vanity by dressing as your favourite deadly sin: display your sartorial elegance with pride and who knows, your dreams of avarice may be rewarded with a fabulous prize. Indulge your gluttony with a feast of the senses including experimental food, stage magic from Damian Jennings and close up magic from Leon Simmonds plus adult crafting with Charlie Bear. A spellbinding night full of fantastical surprises.

Strictly 18+ Tickets £10/£8 concs. 

Utopia is the Alternative Village Fete

October 29th sees the return of White Night, an all-night free arts festival to mark the clocks going back, this year themed around Utopias. More than 70 separate events from the fanciful to the factual aim to inspire you to reach for perfection. As part of White Night, creative producers Home Live Art are curating The Alternative Village Fete, which runs from 6pm-1am at Old Steine Gardens.

Engaging the most exciting artists and creatives from the city and beyond, visitors to The Alternative Village Fete’s stage and stalls will encounter experiences that take them from deco tea rooms, swing dancing and vintage glamour makeovers to pop video routines, food flinging olympics, dark midnight rituals and everything in between.

The Forest of Thoughts will be offering doll and jewellery making workshops using reclaimed objects, from laddered stockings to vintage gloves that have lost their partner, fabric scraps to packs of cards. Bring along any of these plus broken jewellery to re-fashion it into something new; sentimental items that can be turned into brooches and rings; and any small items that you love but aren’t entirely sure what to do with.

Prepare to be entertained by Forest of Thoughts partners, Brighton Science Festival, building marble runs and spaghetti towers, and of course there will be the usual sprinkling of magic. Best of all, it’s free – all you need to pay for are the materials you use, all of which can be bought at pocket money prices.

Other artists include  Cut a Shine Collective, Paul L Martin, 815agency, The Basement, Boogaloo Stu, Lone Twin, Copper Dollar, Ragroof Theatre, Made in China, Victoria Melody, Tom Marshman, Baby Warhol, Brighton Belles WI, Dollydagger, Anna Hunt, Lou McCurdy, Tanya Gangar, Livelovehoop, Fitbitch Bootcamp, Snoopers Attic, Candy Queens, Katie Magic, The Community Chef, Chilli Pepper Pete, Metrodeco and more…

The Alternative Village Fete is a fete re-imagined for the hours of darkness – expect ghouls, vamps (of both the blood favouring and 40s starlet variety), kitsch popstars, rocka-hillbillies, retro hepkats and kittens. Visitors to the Fete are invited to express their twilight alter egos by dressing fancy for the occasion. Come out and play!

At a glance summary: The Alternative Village Fete, Sat 29th October, Brighton & Hove White Night, 6pm – 1am, Old Steine Gardens, Brighton East Sussex, BN1 1EL, FREE. Follow the Alternative Village Fete on Facebook

Makes you laugh and makes you think

At the Forest of Thoughts we’ve long been fans of The Ignobel Awards – indeed, we were fans before the Forest of Thoughts even existed (though the Ignobels certainly planted a few seeds). If you’re new to the awards, as a brief summary, they were created to reward scientific discoveries that, ‘First make you laugh, then make you think.’

Here’s a trailer for the awards:

And we’re very excited to report that we’ll be streaming the awards ceremony live at 12.30am GMT (if you’re elsewhere, see the world clock) on 29th September.

OK, it’s a bit of a late night but it’s well worth it. As a taster, last year’s Engineering Prize went to Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London, UK, and Diane Gendron of Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Baja California Sur, Mexico, for perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter; the Peace Prize went to Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston of Keele University, UK, for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain; and the Biology Prize went to Libiao Zhang, Min Tan, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, and Shuyi Zhang of China, and Gareth Jones of the University of Bristol, UK, for scientifically documenting fellatio in fruit bats (and demonstrating it prolongs copulation time). Oh, and the prizes are presented by Nobel Prize Winners. This makes our inner geek go mushy.

Tickets to the event are sold out so the only way to see the show is to watch it online. So make a date and get watching! We hope you enjoy the Igs as much as we do.

NB:  if you play the live stream before about 12.10am tomorrow, the video will appear to buffer indefinitely until the video stream goes live, so don’t waste your time trying to watch until then. You won’t get access to any exciting behind-the-scenes footage.

Robopop

Robotic bells,  Clara 2.0, the ‘polite robot thereminist’ and Edgar Alan Crow: to anyone who knows her – which is an impressively vast and thoroughly deserved fanbase – the words Sarah Angliss automatically follow. Part science, part art, all performance, Angliss’s robotic and hypnotic acts tempt you down meandering paths towards unexpected magical discoveries. While this may seem like hyperbole, her biography speaks for itself:

“My work has been seen at the Brighton Festival Fringe, Coin Street, Gasworks Gallery (Vauxhall), Cheltenham Music and Science Festivals, Final Cut, the Eden Project, Edinburgh International Science Festival,  London Zoo, Placard Headphone Festival,  The Roundhouse, South Bank Centre, Science Museum, Soho Theatre, Southwold Pier, Quake Dance Festival, Winchester Festival of Art and Mind and many other venues.

Alongside my solo projects, I regularly collaborate with other engineers and artists. Recent collaborators include the National Physical Laboratory, Punchdrunk Theatre Company, psychologist Prof Richard Wiseman, dancer Caroline Radcliffe and sculptor and automatist Tim Hunkin among others.

I’ve won a number of awards, include NESTA Dreamtime funding and public engagement grants from the Wellcome Trust.  In 2007, my AV installation Repeat Repeat, in collaboration with performer Caroline Radcliffe, won a Quake Dance Festival Award. My collaborative performances in the Festival Fringe have twice been nominated as  ‘stand-out’ shows of the Brighton Festival.”

And now she’s arranging the aftershow party for Brighton’s first Maker Faire which takes place at The Brunswick on 3rd September. In addition to performing her unique and mindblowing work, Angliss has put together an incredible line-up of fellow artists including Thomas Truax, Jane Bom-Bane, Nick Pynn and FoT favourites, Sawchestra (pictured above) who ran two amazing events for us at Playgroup.

Book your tickets now – you won’t be disappointed.

The Brunswick
Holland Road, Hove, BN3 1FJ
MAP

Buy tickets (£7)

Play

“If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right.”
Bob Basso (courtesy of TinyBuddha.com)

Yes sir, I can hula

At FoT, we love talented and quirky acts, particularly if there’s an element of magic to the performance. As far as I’m concerned, hula-hooping is magic. Yes, I know there’s a science to hula hooping but no matter how many lessons I have, such science eludes me and instead, I continue to prove that gravity does indeed exist, in the form of the hula hoop repeatedly thumping to the ground.

These wonderful performers are thus utterly magical to me. Enjoy.

 
 

 
 

 
 

And just to show we bring you the hottest new talent first, this amazing child prodigy. Yes, the get up is a little disturbing but just look at the pure joy in her smile…

Question everything even this

Skeptics in the Pub is a fantastic organisation that, as the name suggests, is a group for those who enjoy discussion and sharing beverages with others of a skeptical nature. It aims to promote and foster the use of reason and science to further lifekind, while drinking beer.

The lovely Tim, who runs Brighton Skeptics, came along to the Forest of Thoughts at Playgroup Festival, to stimulate debate based on a series of questions he’d devised that we lovingly calligraphed onto paper doilies. I suspect this may be the first time that Skeptics in the Pub has utilised doilies as a communication medium. Should you feel like a debate tonight, here are just a few of Tim’s questions:

If man evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?
Science has been wrong many times before, how do we know it’s right now?
Why are people always criticising homeopathy if it’s only sugar pills? Surely it’s harmless?
How are the UK libel laws potentially damaging the public’s health?
Is ecstasy really as safe as riding a horse?
Is glass really a liquid?
If there’s no such thing as psychic powers, how do I sometimes know who’s on the phone?
Do I really have free will?
Isn’t the earth only warming up due to sunspot activity?
Why do clever people sometimes believe stupid things?

He offered the light of insight to people who stumbled into the forest blinded by preconceptions in a charming but ruthlessly skeptical way. And we loved him for it.

If you like the idea of stimulating your grey matter and engaging in some critical thinking, get down to The Caroline of Brunswick on  8th September to see Tabitha Innocent from  Sense About Science talk about the Ask for the Evidence campaign and some of the mythbusting and evidence hunting work Sense About Science has done.

Sense for Science exists to challenge many misleading claims about scientific and medical evidence. This autumn they are launching a public campaign, ‘Ask for Evidence’, to bring about wider, more lasting change. When people come across dubious scientific claims, they want someone to go to with their questions. The campaign will encourage everyone to take up claims they think are misleading, both by reporting dodgy science claims and by getting involved in tackling claims themselves, to help stop the spread of misinformation in public discussion.

Entry to Skeptics in the Pub (Brighton) costs a mere £2 to cover speaker expenses, and is on a first-come, first-served basis. If you can’t live with that level of uncertainty, advance tickets are available @ £2 + 5-p P&P from the venue’s website and include a voucher for £2 off any main meal in the pub on the day of the event.

And if you’re not Brighton-based, never fear. There are local Skeptics in the Pub groups across the UK.