Listen to any good traditional storyteller and, sooner or later, you will find yourself walking into the woods. Woodlands are full of immediate life, colour, sound, scent, and danger, no matter what the season. They are worlds away from the barren, unforgiving desert, or farmland all tamed and neat; they don’t have hidden kingdoms like rivers and lakes, or powerful…Continue reading A walk in the wild woods?
An old Russian fairy tale brings us food for thought in these challenging times. Here’s my blog for Folklore Thursday.
Storytelling and nature conservation: how can storytelling contribute to a more wildlife-friendly society? In the storytelling world we are used to “meeting the other”– the fantastic, the magical, the faerie. In this article, I’m inviting you to consider ‘the other’ as all of those non-human living things that we share our planet with. Plants, trees, animals, insects, fungi … we…Continue reading Rewilding storytelling
In Plymouth, past the Barbican and past the point where the Mayflower is meant to have set sail, along the coast towards the Hoe beneath the harsh angular stone of the Citadel, look out over the ivy-clad concrete wall to the sea, and then look again with your eyes tuned to the wild. On the other side of the mouth…Continue reading The battle for the heart of Albion
It’s been a summer of stories, with new projects everywhere, and I am delighted that some of these have been graced by the presence of the Red Alachigh. “The Red what?” I hear you cry. An Alachigh is a type of Iranian nomadic tent, with curved wooden poles. But this one is made of Devon ash wood and its canvas…Continue reading Red hearth, red heart
Every place holds its own stories: echoes of people, wildlife and the land itself. Widecombe-in-the-Moor looks like a rural idyll, a thriving small community tucked away in a Dartmoor valley surrounded by heath and moor and woodland. Any student of Devon folklore will know this place holds some great stories, of Dewer the devil, of ne’er-do-wells who sold their soul…Continue reading Magical meadows
Before 2017, the last time I remember sitting down with a sketchpad and specifically drawing plants was on the Scilly Isles when I was about 11. We were on holiday on St Mary’s, marvelling at exotics like Datura, the strange new discovery of ‘Whistling Jacks’, the corn marigolds everywhere. I drew plant after plant, experimenting with pencil shading and watercolour…Continue reading The art of wild plants
Old apple tree, we wassail thee, and hoping thou will bear For the Lady knows where we shall be when apples come next year It’s been a really difficult January here on Dartmoor: biting cold, constant rain and high winds, short daylight, relentless work, and very little to warm the heart. So what do we do in the south…Continue reading Hats full, caps full
I’ve been very privileged to work with High Bickington Primary School recently. High Bickington is a small village in north Devon where the church is next to the primary school, with a special doorway between the two. Following my work with the school on community trails and landscape, with Devon Wildlife Trust through Beaford Arts’ Hidden Histories project, the school…Continue reading High Kings and heritage
Elm hateth man, and waiteth Till every gust be laid. Rudyard Kipling (1906) There’s a particular book on my bookshelf that’s been high in my mind recently. Written by Gerald Wilkinson and published in 1978, it’s called Epitaph for the Elm. I found it in a little bookshop in Norwich in the 1990s, when the regenerating elms next to the Unthank…Continue reading Tree tragedy