Timber Works
The Custody Code
10th September 2019

The Custody Code

A new art film and installation exploring the role of the timber industry as custodian of our forests

Seed Store at Alice Holt Seed Extractory, © Amanda Loomes

Developed as part of the Forestry Commission’s centenary celebrations, The Custody Code by Amanda Loomes is a new art film which delves into the lives of the people who work in the UK timber industry: in so doing, it seeks to provide the wider public with a comprehensive understanding of the industry’s nature, role and responsibilities.

The Custody Code derives its name from the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification’s Chain of Custody, which guarantees that the timber purchased by a consumer comes from a sustainable source. The film focuses on four forests – Alice Holt, Delamere, Kielder and Thetford – each of which was chosen because of the critical role that it plays within the timber industry. Alice Holt is home to the Forestry Commission’s seed laboratories, Delamere to a tree nursery. Kielder operates a year-round programme of harvesting and replanting operations, and Thetford is Britain’s largest manmade forest, one which was specifically designed to be regularly harvested. The Custody Code will be shown on a series of solar-powered monitors housed within a specially designed wooden structure made from sustainably sourced local timber, which was installed in Alice Holt in the summer and will be installed in Kielder in the autumn.

In addition to the structure, a finger post will be installed in the centre of Newcastle, an hour’s drive from Kielder. (The same post was installed at Portsmouth Harbour when The Custody Code was at Alice Holt.) With each of the fingers pointing towards one of the forests featured in The Custody Code, the post will catch the public’s eye and guide them into the forest. In this way, they will trace the supply chain back from the finished product to the heart of the forest from which the timber was sourced. At the end of their journey they will find the wooden structure and the film which will allow them to travel beyond a simple recognition of the timber’s source to an in-depth understanding of the way in which the timber industry works and its role as the custodian of our forests.

Ian Tubby, the Forestry Commission’s Principal Advisor on Business and Markets comments that the growing recognition of the threat posed by climate change, pests and diseases gives us ‘…a big opportunity now to bring more woodlands into sustainable management. Harvesting timber from woodlands that have been neglected for years will both reduce our reliance on imports and also improve habitats and biodiversity. The Custody Code gives us a real opportunity to encourage people to make connections between sustainable woodland management and the products in their homes such as the furniture and the building materials. We hope that Amanda’s work will illustrate the importance and value of multipurpose forestry.

The Custody Code will be shown at Kielder, Northumberland from 18 September 2019 – 1 December 2019.