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Review: The Enchanted Forest--Shimmer ****

Michael Cox reviews a 'poetically beautiful and wonderfully engaging' experience.

The Enchanted Forest can be explained simply: it is a light and sound installation set in Faskally Wood just outside of Pitlochry. Visitors are bussed to the location and given free reign to walk amongst the trees and designs. No character or plot, and save one key component there is no live interaction.

However the simplicity of this explanation really does the artists and potential viewers a disservice, because what the creative team involved have managed to construct is poetically beautiful and wonderfully engaging.

Shimmer, as this year’s presentation is called, is a celebration of design, an impressive artistic marriage of nature and technology that uses light and soundscapes to bring about new ways to view and commune with the forest it lives within.

Providing a description of each major section would be both tedious and unfair, for half of the pleasure in the experience is in the discovery of what lies behind each turn of the path. So, in the name of fair play, I am happy to state just a few observations:

· Take your time at each section—this is not something to rush through, especially as there are multiple surprises.

· All opportunities to interact should be embraced.

· When given the choice to go left or right—go left.

· The 7-minute long projection by 59 Productions can be seen from multiple locations (including the queue for the bus back to Pitlochry) but it is best experienced from a viewing platform on the loch. It is highly recommended to view the whole presentation from start to finish there.

· Do visit the Storytelling Yurt if possible.

What’s also nice to see is how much the community of Pitlochry seem to have embraced The Enchanted Forest. Shops and cafes adorn the name Shimmer amongst their window displays, and the street lamps are decorated with coloured lights—a precursor to the main event. It’s easy to make going to The Enchanted Forest an evening-long event and not just an hour-long dawdle. And it is best to do just that.

Perhaps on the expensive side of things, Shimmer is still an experience to behold. It’s not just gorgeous but moving, and it will surely linger in the mind far longer than the lights themselves will shine from within the forest.

The Enchanted Forest—Shimmer is on until October 30, 2016. For further details check the website. Photographs © Christina Brownlee.

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