Caught by the River

Our Future is Ancient

3rd December 2020

As National Tree Week continues, Simon Buckley introduces photos taken by moonlight and first light in Macclesfield Forest.

Throughout 2020, during each full moon cycle, I have left Manchester to journey into Macclesfield Forest before dawn, staying until after first light. My first trip was on the Winter Solstice in 2019, and I will complete this stage of ‘Our Future is Ancient’ on the upcoming solstice, on December 21st. I’ve worked in collaboration with Barnaby Festival, and none of us could have known what an extraordinary 12 months it would be when I began gathering my photographs, film, audio and text.

At times, during the pandemic, I yearned for the forest and saw it as a sanctuary away from the urban environment in which I spent lockdown. 

The project will become an audio-visual book, with original music I’ve written, and there will be an exhibition and performance at the Barnaby Festival in June 2021.


Simon Buckley is an artist based in Salford and Manchester, and is the creator of the Not Quite Light project, which explores the places in which we exist using dawn and dusk as metaphors for transition. He’s currently working on a major project with the Manchester Collective, which will become public in January 2021. He is also creative director of the Not Quite Light Festival, which takes place in the city of Salford. You can visit his website here, and you can also follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.