Forest Fable

Trigger Warning - references to childhood abuse

By 13 Years Old

  • Fracture of shoulder
  • Fracture of Jaw
  • Fracture of skull
  • Pelvic injuries
  • Sophie's bones buried in the rose garden,  crime reference 06P*/2*602/*2 


We went on holiday for over twenty years to a 1920s summer house hidden in a forest. I rode ponies, played tennis, went bird watching and walking.  In the woods, I made cross-country courses for my imaginary pony and practised on them every day.  I was a centaur, half girl half horse.

This is a house I dream about, and in my recurring dream it has a hidden room accessed via a high bridge and I long to find it again. The real house had bedrooms on two sides. On one side are large bedrooms for guests and smaller ones for the servants off the kitchen. My sister and I slept in the smaller rooms. We were surrounded by the forest. I used to climb out of the window. 

We were safe here because we holidayed with family and friends, though my mother would threaten to send me away to boarding school to be rid of me.  The house offered a brief interlude from the broken bones and abuse. 

Found Object, Ribbon

Signpost in Yellow

The Cottage of Sweets

In 2021 I returned to look again at this space. I was haunted by Hansel and Gretel, they were abandoned by their parents and left a trail of breadcrumbs to find a way home. The need to find a way home to our parents, even if they are cruel, is a survival instinct. We attach, for without this we would die. 

In the fairytale woods, they come across an old lady who has a house made of sweets but she is a wolf in sheep's clothing. In my version she had two husbands, I added the wolf too, and a group of family members, their friends and a doctor. A whole group of paedophiles. 

 Gretel wears a red cape and it lies on the floor of my wardrobe, discarded now. The house is not made of sweets but in the kitchen, there is jam and coconut tart as a reward. There is no happy ending.   

In the real forest, I found the woodshed, the ribbon tied to a tree and the signposts with yellow paint. I followed the paint marks and got lost. My dog took me back to the path. 

To find healing we must purge the demons. Trauma is hidden in the body and the body keeps the score. My challenge is to let go, so I photograph others and ask how they release pain. It turns out to be a complex journey. I think we are all so brave for when we empty the trauma out, we make a void, and that is something we have to fill with peace and acceptance.  Their stories of transformation are  Feathers of Hope

The Girl Who Wished She Was a Horse

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