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Star Shaped - 'if trees were lone women what would they sound like' background and map

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

The star comes directly after the destruction of the Tower in the journey of the Fool. Star represents peace, rest and healing ; a sense of being protected and held by the universe - the calm after the proverbial storm. Whenever the Star appears in a reading it signifies a beautiful and healing energy coming into your life. The peaceful and settled energy of the Star heralds a welcome sense of recovery and restoration. It’s a time to come back to yourself and an invitation to return to who you truly are.

Image and text copyright to my friend and artist Sophie McKay Knight from her tarot deck series The Painted Tarot.


In thinking through 'if trees were lone women what would they sound like' I kept thinking of the numbers that all women carry consciously and subconsciously throughout our lives. The statistical likelihood of experiencing harassment, abuse and assault, the age at which the messaging of it is safe or unsafe, possible or impossible to do certain things. These risks are often heightened for trans women and non binary people and I wanted a wood that offered space for nuance of experience, feelings and perspectives for all.

In much of my work I'm interested in the points of transformation and so I wanted to incorporate the idea of transformation into the creation of the 'lone women wood'. I therefore chose the number 17 for the amount of trees, both because it is the number that corresponds with The Star card in tarot, the meaning of which aligns positively with what I would like the wood to offer, and because it's a prime number. I find the idea of the prime of life both fascinating and frustrating. In previous Lone Women projects I got a lot of messages from women who felt they were either past their prime and no longer able to conceive of new experiences alone or worried that they would pass their prime before doing so. I would like the 'lone women wood' to be a space where those experiencing it can contemplate and feel their own primacy, whatever that means to them. On a literal level I've decided to follow a loose star shape for the tree configuration as when alone in the woods consideration of darkness and light are often underlying whether in relation to enjoyment, aesthetics or ideas of safety. I wanted there to be some sense of positively positioned starlight whatever the time of day people visit.

Following a site visit on Monday I've decided to install 'if trees were lone women what would they sound like' in the area marked with a green circle above. Please note this is not deep in the forest or in ancient woodland, it is a small copse directly adjacent to the main Sanctuary site. It has been chosen because it offers a separate space that a sense of 'lone women wood' can be created in whilst also not requiring lots of walking to get to. It also means that if anyone wants to experience it alone, especially when darkness has fallen, that it is very close to the information point and friendly volunteers, which should add an extra layer of comfort should it be needed. Also for me these spaces are also how we imagine them to be wherever they are, so I'm interested in how just being in the space and listening deeply might transform the physical sense of it. The trees won't be marked other than one which will have red wool wrapped around it - this tree is where I'll put any audio sent with a trauma warning. I should say that none of the audio is overly graphic but it is moving and could potentially be triggering. It should start to hit a dusk sense in the trees from approximately 7pm onwards so if you would like to experience the trees in a more atmospheric context then I'd recommend coming after then rather than at opening, you may however, equally want to listen in full light or darkness on either side!. Sunset is at approximately 7.45pm.

The installation will run for the duration of Sanctuary Lab (please check their site for full details and general directions) and will, therefore, be open to being experienced in different levels of light, darkness, aloneness and togetherness. The installation is one of being in the moment, of moving around the space at your pace and listening to whatever happens to be playing at that time. Other than on certain points of 'The Star' where I will be looping material, there will be no replays or opportunities to rewind and listen again. The experience will be random and ephemeral and hopefully can be embraced and enjoyed as such, letting go of expectations and the need for too much planning and contingency. If you contributed words, sounds or music and are coming along to experience the installation there is no guarantee, indeed it will be a lucky chance, that you will hear what you sent. I am working on other iterations where wider access and appreciation of all the contributions is possible but for this embrace the ephemeral.

Come with a headtorch or torch, preferably with an animal/light pollution friendly filter and wear clothing and footwear appropriate to a potentially wet and slippy Scottish forest setting! Also bear in mind that others will be listening deeply and will want physical space and quiet to do so.

Most importantly enjoy the wonderful polyphony of many different experiences and perspectives of being alone in a forest as women.

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