Walking in a winter wonderland

A Brighton bar shows Charlotte Pearson how it is bringing Narnia's magical winter landscapes in from the cold.

Inside Tales from Woodlandia
Inside Tales from Woodlandia

A family of deer nestled around fir trees or snow falling sounds like a scene from The Chronicles of Narnia, not a bar in Brighton’s Marine Parade.

Tales from Woodlandia is a collaboration between the creative team at Patterns and Brighton based digital projection artist Thomas Buckley.

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“The brief they gave was to create an original and exciting installation within the venue for the winter,” reveals Thomas, “to create nooks and small spaces, to feel warm and inviting and to be engaging.”

Some of the drinks available

Visually the result is as if ‘Patterns has had slices taken out and replaced with the British countryside’.

“It is like you have wandered into Narnia,” enthuses Thomas.

“I hope the first thing people feel is the need to go and explore.

“It will be like a wall has been knocked down so you can see a family of deer move around fir trees or look up at the ceiling letting digital snowfall gently into bar.”

Inside Woodlandia

The pop-up will be a mixture of Thomas’s digital projection art and physical set dressing to bring it all together.

“There will be real plants and objects you can touch while taking in the stunning immersive visuals,” explains Lucy Sambrook from the creative team at Patterns.

“We’ve also got a programme of immersive events running throughout which tie into our woodland theme from urban foraging to a wreath making workshop.”

Thomas reveals that he has been making installations and exhibitions since he graduated from University of Brighton, where he studied illustration.

Some of the drinks available

“Almost all my exhibited work has been about bringing the great outdoors indoors and creating space full of nature in a digital way,” explains Thomas.

“I have been creating digital forests for years but they been for a different audience with different challenges. It’s really exciting for me that someone might wander into the venue for a coffee and end up in Narnia.”

The inspiration for the project came from the Patterns creative team wanting to create a space where people can relax and get a taste of being outdoors while keeping warm and dry.

“Winter in England can sometimes feel a bit gloomy with dark nights and cold weather,” says Lucy.

Inside Woodlandia

“We also wanted to create a spectacle that people will feel intrigued to come and see, the setting is definitely more magical for Friday night drinks than your average boozer.

“We have also got ‘yoga in the forest’ classes running on Saturdays which will be a lovely thing to experience in the depths of Winter and should feel really relaxing.”

Inside, you’ll find festive treats such a boozy hot chocolate menu and hot buttered rum.

When Thomas was given the brief he was already showing work as part of Pop-up Brighton’s event at the Dome.

“The chance to work in Patterns gave me the idea to develop and expand what I’d created for the Dome,” he says.

“My original installation was an autumn forest covering a wall with leaves falling in front. When I began to think about how I could develop this in Patterns I couldn’t help but think of how immersive being stood in a clearing in a forest is – being able to turn around and the trees panned out around


“My first steps were working on making my 2D forest 3D and giving people the feeling of being lost in nature.”

In the past, Thomas has mainly worked on his own but found the opportunity to collaborate with the Patterns team made the project bigger than his own imagination.

“When you’re trying to create an installation that inspires discovery and surprise you usually know all the secrets so it’s really amazing to get that feeling of intrigue as a maker as well,” smiles Thomas.

What was the hardest part of the project for the artist?

“The most difficult part has been creating it inside a non-gallery setting,” says Thomas.

“But most of the challenges have pushed the work further – being able to drill into or fix projectors only to certain walls or surfaces has meant the work reacts to the architecture of the venue.

“The longevity of the pop-up has also been a good challenge for me.”

As the installation runs over three months until February the projection will change with the snow melting away, which means that people will have new things to see if they visit in the new year.

Tales of Woodlandia at Patterns is open until February, 2017, Tuesday to Sunday unless ticketed or private event. Patterns is located opposite Brighton pier, in strolling distance from the station. The venue was launched in 2015 by Mothership Group (behind The Book Club, Queen of Hoxton, in London). For more information, visit patternsbrighton.com

Tales of Woodlandia at Patterns is open until February 2017 Tuesday to Sunday unless ticketed or private event.

Patterns is located opposite the iconic Brighton pier on the seafront, in strolling distance from the station. The venue was launched in 2015 by Mothership Group (behind The Book Club, Queen of Hoxton, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in London).

For more information, visit patternsbrighton.com

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