Craig Coulthard - Forest Pitch (4 stars)

This article is from 2012

Craig Coulthard - Forest Pitch

Photo: Angie Catlin

Artist Coulthard creates a full-size football pitch in the Borders as part of the Cultural Olympiad

Craig Coulthard has certainly put the ‘beautiful’ in the beautiful game with Forest Pitch; a full-size football pitch created in the middle of a forest in the Scottish Borders.

At the end of August two football matches were played on the pitch, the only (official) ones that will ever take place there. Coulthard’s plan is to plant native trees along the pitch lines and leave the space to grow wild. In years to come the spot will be a unique woodland sculpture, a ghostly shadow of what it once was.

On the day of the matches, the spectators make their way through the woodland, following painted signs and the sound of a brass band. Eventually the path opens out to a clearing and a full-size football pitch. It’s an undeniably magical experience, undampened by the mud underfoot and the rain in the air.

The four teams (two male, two female) are made up of players who are recent British citizens or who have been granted ‘Leave to Remain’ in Scotland, a reminder of the uniting power of football. It also hints at the much bandied about idea of the Olympic spirit (the project is, after all, part of the Cultural Olympiad). Those who’ve come to watch today’s matches are a varied bunch – art lovers, football fans, families, dogs and friends and relatives of those playing and the whole event is refreshingly down-to-earth. (For the second match of the day Coulthard himself is in goal.)

If there are concerns about the project (and it’s worth noting its substantial budget has raised more than a few eyebrows), it’s that hidden away, in this remote part of the country one wonders how many people will actually come and visit this living, ever-changing piece of art. But then again perhaps that’s part of the romantic notion of it; in 10, 20, perhaps even 30 years time someone may unexpectedly stumble across this overgrown, abandoned pitch and you can’t deny that that in itself is an enchanting idea.

Forest Pitch, 25 Aug.

Forest Pitch

  • 4 stars

On a football pitch created from trees deep in a forest in the Scottish borders, two amateur matches are played and local performances are put on all day as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Craig Coulthard is behind this art installation and sporting celebration, with goalposts and a shelter built from commercial trees…