Forest Uprising: Q&A with Block9

Published 9 Dec 2019 by Caroline

This weekend, the London Borough of Culture 2019 finale comes to Leyton!

From 13-15 December, Forest Uprising will transform Leyton Sports Ground into a beautiful winter forest, with mesmerising tree-like light installations created by Block9. We had a chat with Stephen and Gideon from Block9 to find out more about their organisation, and what we can expect from the first-ever London Borough of Culture finale...

Tell us about Block9? What do you do?
Block9 are a London-based creative organisation producing multi-disciplinary artworks. At Block9, we explore the space where art, music, theatre and politics collide, often through the construction of large-scale, immersive, installations.

What inspired you to start creating temporary alternative realities?
We (Stephen Gallagher and Gideon Berger, Block9 co-founders) started out designing for tv, theatre, and music shows - that was like our ‘basic training’ but we both come from art backgrounds and really wanted to make our own work…designing worlds that people could become part of and actually participate in - temporary worlds where people were set free from their usual realities. 

What can people expect from the installation at Forest Uprising?
Expect the unexpected! There are magical light installations, ethereal soundscapes, live music, action theatre and… protesting woodland creatures!  You have been warned!

What elements of Waltham Forest have inspired the installation itself?
Waltham Forest has a long history of positive protest. People in the borough have used their voices to instil positive change in their world, through introducing new ideas and ways of thinking. We thought this was really inspiring and very relevant today given the times we live in. Of course, there is also the forest itself, which was a key visual cue for us.

You’ve worked with school children in the borough for this installation as well. Could you tell us more about that?
Earlier in the year we asked the children of Waltham Forest a single, simple question: ‘What kind of world do you want to live in?’ This became a conversation and the starting point for Forest Uprising, which aims to express some of their fears and apprehensions but is also a kind of hopeful, dream-like environment where seeds of ideas germinate in glasshouses, hopes and ambitions are nurtured and given the space to grow, and the many voices of the forest, loud and clear, echo all around.

If you could sum up the Forest Uprising project in three words, what would it be? 
Thought-provoking, surreal and entertaining.
Where can people find out more about your work?
You can find us on or on @block9official on Instagram. And if you want to see us in the real world, we have our own area at Glastonbury Festival where you can see some of the other temporary alternative realities that we have created. 

Forest Uprising will be well and truly unique to the borough, it's entirely free and it’ll be a great way to celebrate with communities across Waltham Forest! Join us.