Layla Khoo’s ‘Custodians’ at Dalby Forest


Layla Khoo’s ‘Custodians’ launches at Dalby Forest
‘Custodians’ by Layla Khoo is an evolving, semi-permanent art installation at Dalby Forest. In the piece Layla explores the history of rabbit warrening.
It is inspired by the history that Forestry England is charged with preserving, and the future they plan to protect beyond their own lifetimes. The history protected in Dalby Forest lies everywhere beneath our feet, seldom even noticed but protected nonetheless within this working forest.
Life-sized porcelain rabbits are placed in an otherwise unseen man-made rabbit warren, of sufficient historical importance to be listed as a scheduled monument, and yet lost to most visitors as part of the forest floor. These other-worldly white rabbits gaze upwards at viewers, their eyes silvery and reflecting the light shining down on them, highlighting the history of this land.
This artwork identifies the site in the present. The future of the site is marked with sapling yew trees planted around its perimeter, an evolving feature with its own folklore connotations of death and rebirth, which will only come into fruition years after the sculptures have gone.
The artist.

Layla Khoo is a local mixed media artist, specialising in ceramics and creating site specific public installations. Recent works include “Chronicle of Curiosities” at Whitby Museum and “Change in Attitudes” at National Trust, Nunnington Hall.

Dalby is working with a variety of exciting local artists who are using the forest as their inspiration to create new works. Petra Young, Forestry England’s Funding and Development Manager, Yorkshire District, says: ‘We are excited to be able to show Layla Khoo’s work in Dalby Forest. Layla is an amazing artist. Her work is thought provoking as it highlights the lesser known elements of history and brings it to life in a creative and contemporary way.’

The history
A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and skins. The tradition of warren construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction of rabbits into England from the continent. The warrens would usually consist of breeding areas, ditches for drainage and traps or “types” which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for selective culling.
Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society; however, by the 16th and 17th centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the country.

Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the onset of myxomatosis.  Most traces of post-medieval warrening have been swept away by later land-use changes.

Today those remains in Dalby and the adjacent forests are virtually all that are known to survive in north eastern England, including one example first recorded in 1776 and thought to have been in use until the end of the 19th century.

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Map & Directions

Road Directions

By Road:Follow the brown tourist signs from Pickering on the A169 Whitby Road or from Thornton Le Dale on the A170By Public Transport:Accessible by Public Transport: Malton station is 8 miles away.

Layla Khoo’s ‘Custodians’ at Dalby Forest

Type:Wildlife & Nature Event

Adderstone area of Dalby Forest, Low Dalby, Pickering, North Yorkshire, YO18 7LR
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Opening Times

Open New Year
Season (25 May 2021 - 31 Dec 2021)

* Open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Visitor centre opening hours change seasonally.
Main car park open 8am - 8pm daily.

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Dalby - The Great Yorkshire ForestDalby - The Great Yorkshire Forest, PickeringA 9 mile scenic drive with car parks, BBQ & picnic areas, play areas, ability graded cycle trails, waymarked walks, orienteering course, bike hire, Go Ape, Dalby Activity Centre, Visitor centre with toilets, Forest Cafe and exhibition area.

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