Call-out for applicants for the Field Notes summer school

Design, Architecture and Digital
June 23, 2022

For the second iteration of Make Good: Rethinking Material Futures (supported by John Makepeace OBE), the V&A is collaborating with Sylva Foundation. Together we are hosting a summer school inviting creative practitioners with an interest in wood as a material, and forests and woodlands as a place for learning and growing, to take part.

The summer school takes place in person at Sylva Foundation’s Wood School in Oxfordshire in the first week of September 2022. This will be preceded by a number of talks, seminars and mentoring sessions running online 15 – 19 August 2022. There will also be further mentoring sessions after the week-long summer school to prepare the work for display. The results of the Field Notes project will be presented in a display in the Furniture Gallery at the V&A in London in autumn 2022.

A building with large doors, holding the Wood School
The wood workshop at Sylva Foundation Wood School in Oxfordshire.

Project brief

Field Notes will explore how diversity – in all its forms – is essential when searching for sustainable ways of making in wood. The project will explore a plurality of approaches and solutions shaped and informed by the diversity of people’s different experiences to find broad resonances and applications in wider society. As such, this iteration of Make Good: Rethinking Material Futures connects with the wider ambition of the 10-year programme to make knowledge around sustainable forestry more widely accessible to practitioners of design. The summer school is searching for prompts and questions that can create a collection of Field Notes exploring:

  • What does it mean on both a personal and societal level to make with local, natural materials?
  • What might sustainable systems for sourcing and making locally look like?
  • What environmental, socio-economic and political structures need to be considered?
  • Who are these structures useful to, who do they benefit and how can they be transformed?
  • How can cross-disciplinary collaboration support sustainable practices?

The outcome of the project will be an object or series of objects made from underutilised, home-grown solid timber and other natural materials, sourced locally. These pieces will be contextualised with reflections on the summer-school learning process in the form of imagery, spoken or written word, film or performance.

A main wearing protective gear uses a large piece of machinery
The workshop is equipped with industry-standard woodworking tools

Who can apply to take part?

The Field Notes summer school is open to anyone over the age of 18 with an interest in making. As the Wood School at Sylva Foundation is equipped with industry-standard woodworking tools, this is a great environment for people to further develop professional making skills; some prior experience of using woodworking tools would be a benefit to participants. This is an opportunity suitable for students, recent graduates, or early-career practitioners – there are eight places available.

There are a further four places for embedded observers, to learn from and capture the programme in some format other than making in wood, for example through writing, sketching, podcast making, film making, or photography. This is an opportunity also suitable for students, recent graduates, or early-career practitioners. Mentors will be available to all participants, to help realise the different projects.

Each selected participant will receive a £1000 stipend to take part in the summer school.

Students at the Wood School measuring
Students at the Sylva Summer School 2021

How to apply

For an overview of the Field Notes summer school, please read the full call-out here.

To apply to take part, please complete this Google form before 23:59 BST on 11 July 2022.

The call-out for applicants and the Google application form is managed by Sylva Foundation Wood School. If you have any questions about the call-out or the summer school, please email

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