B.E.A.T – Beaudesert Eco Art Trail

We have got the go ahead and funding to create a series of workshops based around nature and how it can assist people who live with enduring mental health illness’s.

This is really exciting, we have chosen six sites around Cannock Chase to deliver nature based art workshops, going out into the rural areas of the Area of Outstanding Beauty to experiment making ephemeral art using natural objects.

This will be a pilot project to develop further into a longer term programme.


Beaudesert Care Farm CIC

2B64A5BC-1696-4608-8B22-B93BBF62EFD99A2202C0-F9C7-4DB9-9E79-1F5CDB61F9C2D1914F7F-9595-4E2D-9BDF-6C736EF17B9DI’ve spent a very lovely day at Beaudesert Care Farm near Rugeley today.  They run projects that support people who live with dementia, mental health illnesses and their carers. I’ve run a print workshop for them in the past but today was a treat of a day out for me to enjoy good company, make some hot cross buns and say hello to the animals.

We started the morning by making needing bread for our buns,  followed by a walk around the farm to visit the welsh white cows and the boer goats, unfortunately the weather was closing in so we cut the tour short as some of the participants were getting cold.

Back in to homemade soup and rolls with lots of laughter, followed by homemade cake.  Possibly one of the simplest but most delicious lunches I’ve had in a long time.

The afternoon session consisted of some easter crafts complete with mini chocolate eggs.  When asked if she’d had a nice time, one elderly lady exclaimed “it’s overwhelming! I’ve had a great time” and to be honest, so had I.

Forest School – Meeting other practitioners


I organised my first Forest School meet up for practitioners yesterday, this was done via social media and was a great opportunity to meet up with fellow practitioners to swap ideas and enjoy some cpd with a rare visit from the sun.

Things never really go to plan, I wanted to have a go at some pewter casting but couldn’t find my pewter, which is carefully hidden in the shed.  I’d also cricked my neck and was struggling to look over my left shoulder.  However, I took a couple of projects that I wanted to work on.

I chatted with other practitioners, wandered around a bit, had a cup of tea, sat in a hammock… and that was enough. I realised I needed to just enjoy being in the space and drop the urge to do something, it was lovely to just spend time outdoors, watch other people work on their practice and just relax.

On reflection of the day, there are some things I’d change, better introductions, define work spaces better and have 10 minutes in a hammock.  I’m looking forward to the next one.

Art Filled Month

I’ve had such a lovely start to year, whilst I’ve not made much in the way of my own artwork, I’ve attended quite a few workshops which have inspired me to experiment

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The first was a walk around Markeaton Park in Derby on a ‘Sense of Place’ Walk, the Walk Leader instigated some very evocative questions and we discussed how the senses can be used to evoke memories of places, the history surrounding that place and what it means to us collectively or as individuals.  It was a great start to the year, despite the greyness of the weather, it was fascinating to start to pinpoint what I had been feeling fro a long time, that places are important to our connection with ourselves, our past and futures, our connection to nature and band the landscape we live in.

This was followed by a couple of Sunday afternoon walks around Derby in connection with the Richard Long exhibition.  His work is showing at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery at the moment and it has been a real treat to view these pieces of art and to join in with workshops that encouraged me to contemplate not only Long’s work, but my own.   We experimented with land art, words and walking.

I was fascinated by the story of the man who ran the same route every day for 10 years leaving a track around the periphery of the field, it resonated with Long’s work and captured my imagination.  I walked the route, worn down over the years, one way and then in reverse trying to gain a sense of why this field to run around especially when over the river, there were far more interesting fields.  I didn’t get any sense of why he would do this for ten whole years without deviating from his route just the knowledge that I’m not sure I could be so dedicated with my short attention span!



Boxing Day Walk & Forage for Ink

Hope you all had a lovely Xmas break, I was struck by flu for the first week of the festive break, but luckily was up and about by Boxing Day so we were able to partake in that yearly phenomenon of families walking together in the countryside.  I’m lucky enough to live within a short drive to the Peak District and we headed for a scenic walk around the Chatsworth Estate.

AA211D7F-CB45-4AF4-AFC4-0812E1EC8CDC257C00D4-DEC3-4F58-8744-C310DAFAEE7DI was very happy to discover two ancient oak trees absolutely covered in oak galls, these are left by a wasp laying it’s eggs and creating a small spherical gall.  The larvae then hatches and digs it’s way out of the gall leaving a tannin rich ball of loveliness for any eco artist. I quickly filled my gloves and pockets!

So this morning, I’ve been playing with a bit of kitchen witchery and grinding the galls before adding them to iron water and setting aside for a few days.   There are several methods to making oak gall ink, but this is my favourite.  I’ve also ordered some gum Arabic to experiment with a thickener so will post the results when I’ve made it and compared results.

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Derbyshire Forest School Conference

It’s always great to meet up with like minded people and develop new ideas, so I was really looking forward to the forest school day at the Eco Centre in Wirksworth.

I was leading a workshop in making Scandinavian Friendship Braids which I’d seen on the kindling Website and have used a lot at my own forest school. I love this simple, but not easy activity, it’s great for team work, communicating, laughing and making something you can share with a friend. You can also get in depth about differentiating with shapes, colours, words and numbers so it’s a great activity for any age.  I really enjoy leading a workshop at this conference, as the participants are all so keen to engage with new ideas that they can take back and use in their own settings.

After my workshop had finished, I attended a woodland gym and yoga session, which to be honest, my bra trauma started very early on in the session, so I decided observing was the safest option! I did enjoy the yoga story and the relaxation at the end though.  After a picnic lunch, I watched Paul Adamson demonstrate how to use a bow drill to light a fire and picked up a few tips on how to do this successfully, I have perfected how to fail at this so it’s time to do it properly…

im always inspired by a bit of CPD and the Derbyshire Forest School Conference never fails to deliver. I’m already wondering what workshop to offer next year.


Soul Nourishing

I’ve wanted to swim in the river for so long, but been too anxious to go off by myself and do it, so when I spotted a post on social media, I jumped at the opportunity.  It’s one of the highlights of my summer and I’ll be returning to the spot whenever I can.


A rare selfie
New friends swimming in the Derwent.
Part of my I am Here Now journey, taking time to read in my hammock.


Keeping the Creativity Alive


In a week of such uncertainty, I realised I may have no influence in what is happening externally, other than putting a cross where my conscience tells me, i have tried to embrace the lack of control eco dyeing encourages me to embrace.

I am happy with chaos and surprise in my artwork but when it happens in life my brain shuts down into a spiral of depression, can I learn to transfer the excitement of unwrapping a bundle to the external world?

Bundle Dyeing

I may have cheated… I bought some roses that were reduced from the supermarket! This goes against all the ideas of the Sorrel and Silk project, which was to use foliage and flowers from Derbyshire. However, in my defence, yesterday it was an immense effort to get out of the house.  I decided to have a go at just using petals and steaming the bundles to extract the colours from the petals. I’m really happy with the results.  I have had my eye on some flowers in my garden, but as my daughter planted them, they are untouchable.  These pieces will probably be used as backgrounds for collaged textile pieces later on this year.