Silvas Capitalis, which translates as “forest head”, is an unusual art installation built by the American art group SIMPARCH.
Located on the grounds of Kielder Forest, near the Scottish border, Silvas Capitalis is not exactly the kind of shelter you’d expect to stumble upon while walking through the trees. It’s purpose is to provide visitors and cyclists of Kielder Forest with a refuge, and at the same time, add to the mystery of this place. Inspired by the “watchers” of Celtic folklore – spiritual beings who keep watch over the forest and its inhabitants – who were usually depicted as human heads, the forest head was considered too scary for young children. Visits to local schools were required to test the reaction of the kids, before the actual building began.
Silvas Capitalis is made from hundreds of individual timber blocks, individually cut, sanded and glued into the shape of a head. Visitors can climb up the stairs of Silvas Capitalis and actually look through the eyes of the watcher. The initial plan included carving out its ears so people could hear through them, but due to time limitations, this step was skipped.