Creativity, nature and wellbeing – new beginnings…

It’s been a time of ideas coming together over the past few weeks for the Boundary Way project. On the first day of Summer and for the first Blog on my new website I am taking a look at nature connection and some of the ways we have tried to encourage this in our sessions. 

A couple of weeks ago I took part in a networking day at Kew Gardens organised by Grow Wild.  We have been awarded funding from Grow Wild for our Magnifying Mushrooms Project and it was brilliant to have the opportunity to meet with leads from other Grow Wild projects and find out more about their work. The day focused on ways of connecting with nature through fungi and wild flowers and kicked off with each organisation presenting their project. Each project was inspirational. We learnt from TouchBase Pears in Birmingham ways of using sound to help people with complex disabilities connect with plants through vibrations, how Community led art gallery Peer Uk in East London were repurposing bath tubs as planters to create an arts trail  and about an ecology garden in a prison and mushroom growing in a housing development. 

Pathways to nature connection 

Later on Ryan Lumber from Derby University outlined the five pathways to nature connection, part of an area of research that examines the factors that support increased connection to nature. They have been working with the National Trust and Natural England to develop ways of implementing the framework. 

One of the elements of the pathways to nature connection is to build both an emotional relationship and aesthetic appreciation of nature and this is something that can be developed through creative engagement. At Boundary Way we have explored the landscape through senses beyond the visual including sound, touch and taste. 

Listening to and describing sounds of nature at Boundary Way with Penn Fields School sixth form.

An artist’s foray into fungi 

An appreciation of beauty and the aesthetic qualities of nature is an important part of our new fungi themed project, Magnifying Mushrooms. And last week we were delighted to kick off our programme with an introduction to mycology by Rich Wright from Forever Fungi.  

Rich began with an outline of basic science,  the importance of fungi to food, medicine, pioneering research and it’s interrelationship with trees and plants. He guided us around our community garden, drawing attention to what had previously been hidden wonders of mycelium and fungi, in trees, decaying wood and in the soil. 

The session fuelled inspiration for our forthcoming programme of fungi themed creative sessions and we began exploring last Friday at a gathering of some of the artists who will be delivering this programme. Led by Hannah and Clare we worked through a four stage process; starting with spontaneous line drawings working from mushroom samples, then working on a larger and even freer way using twigs as mark-making tools and drawing with ink, working into these pieces using colour and tone and finally using a folding technique to transform the sheets into a sketchbook format. We’ll be using some of these techniques in the workshops. 

Our unique workshop programme begins next Saturday with an exploration of fungi through textile techniques led by Elise Stewart, there is still chance to book a place for this session here.

Sessions continue through June and July with opportunities to connect with nature and people whilst being inspired by the beauty and importance of fungi.  Workshops in drawing, painting, experimental textiles and folklore are available, click here for further details.

Finally the project will culminate in an exhibition and open day on the 7th of September which will showcase new artistic work alongside our fungi discoveries.

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