Celebration of the Dean’s ‘Men of Steel’

By Review reporter   |   Reporter   |
Saturday 5th March 2022 7:00 am

m The programme brought together a diverse range of experts, artists and local people

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A LIGHT was shone on the Forest’s industrial heritage in Coleford last week with a two-day celebration of local 18th century pioneers Robert and David Mushet.

Dozens gathered for a series of events organised by Cinderford-based charity Wyldwood Arts, in conjunction with Coleford Town Council and Foresters Forest, to discover more about the impact the Mushets’ had on the local area through exhibitions of history, art and storytelling.

Liz Bell, company producer at Wyldwood Arts, described the celebration as “a wonderful couple of days” in which local people fully engaged in their “eclectic” events programme.

Liz said: “The Coleford Mushet Celebration was a fantastic example of what is possible when we work together as individuals, cultural organisations and community groups to explore, celebrate and build upon our shared heritage.

‘‘By collaborating with partners from across the Forest of Dean, we were able to create an eclectic, engaging programme that brought together a diverse range of experts, artists and local people to exchange ideas, stories and opinions.

“We were proud to bring this fantastic programme to life and are delighted that it has stimulated such an enthusiastic response - what began with our production of an audio drama based on an important piece of local history has evolved into a much wider conversation about the power of art to create, interpret and challenge mainstream narratives around legacy.”

The celebrations launched on Tuesday with the premier of a locally-produced audio drama, ‘The Mushets’, at the Studio Cinema, which was followed by a Q&A with cast and crew hosted by BBC journalist Jo Durrent.

A ‘Spotlight on Heritage’ light installation “dazzled” on-lookers in the town centre on Tuesday evening, with the Mushet mural and clock tower both lit up and historical images projected onto surrounding buildings.

Local author Dr Cherry Lewis hosted a talk on the contributions made to the emerging field of geology by Robert Mushet in the early 1800s at Coleford Library on Wednesday. Local history expert Ian Standing also ran guided tours of Coleford’s most iconic Mushet-related landmarks, with attendees given the opportunity to turn their experience into a poem.

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