Tuesday, 16 June 2020


I am delighted to announce the launch of Imminent, a new zine publication that I have produced, now available.

Imminent is a collection of words and images by contemporary creative writers and artists around the UK. I invited creative people who I know and who I know are wonderful to contribute to this new venture with me, to create a small periodical of responses to our current environmental context.

In editing Issue 1, I discovered thematic groupings emerging from the generous contributions from artists and writers. Their interests have developed my own, so I have written an introductory piece that sets the scene for the first issue, on the physicality of material.

The zine will not exist online, because it needs to be a material thing. I believe that the experience of holding something in your hand that is tangible and has been produced from the world, and considering how that thing came to be, as well as our relationship with it, is part of the environmental connection that we need to renew in our current times.

Imminent has been produced in the most environmentally way that I could, using recycled paper and plant based inks, printed through a riso printer running on sustainable energy sources.

I hope you will enjoy this new zine, which I aim to produce twice per year. The proceeds from the zine will go back to covering the cost of the next issue, so please consider supporting this and the wonderful artists and writers who have contributed.

If you would like the first issue, you can buy it through PayPal using the Buy Now button below (you do not have to have a PayPal account).

If you would like to join the mailing list to be alerted when subsequent issues become available, please sign up here.

Thank you.

Issue 1 includes contributions from Linzi Bright, Jim Caruth, Jo Dacombe, Mark Goodwin, Mary Hayes and Andy Postlethwaite.
Imminent Zine
Issue 1 June 2020
A5 12 pages
£2 + p&p 

(p&p is for UK only, if you are outside of the UK please contact me)

You can also pre-order Issue 2 (November) below.

Choose Issue

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Othering... and other writing

Enchanted 1, Jo Dacombe 2019
I am pleased to have a new article out, for Climate Cultures.

The piece draws on many of the themes I have been writing about for the forthcoming book Imagining Woodlands. It reflects on the way that we use language and mapmaking to describe our relationship with the natural world, specifically woodlands, and the effect this has on our perceptions.

You can read the post here: Othering - on Woodlands, Maps and Language

I am indebted to editor Mark Goldthorpe for working with me on this piece. As a result of his suggestions, I have started to think about new ways of using words to describe landscapes. I have also been inspired by some poetry that I have been writing, as part of a Twenga group  - writing Renga poetry as a collaboration on Twitter. Run by artists Paul Conneally and Gavin Wade, Twenga is inspiring new ways for me to think about writing. It's also just a lot of fun! Anybody can join in - read the current Twenga by searching for #twenga on Twitter.
Meanwhile, work on Imagining Woodlands continues, for which I am currently developing ideas for images to accompany a chapter written by Dr Freya Sierhuis. I'm very excited to bring all these ideas to fruition and I hope to make the book available in 2020.

Thanks for following.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Woodland Instincts

I have been thinking about the way we respond instinctively to wooded environments, and how they affect us both in a sensorial way and psychologically.

This week I will visit the University of York once more, as part of the Imagining Woodlands module, when students will present their own work inspired by the series of lectures and workshops that they have attended over the previous months.

In April I ran a workshop as part of the module for the second year running. The workshop takes place in St Nick's Nature Reserve, a 20 minute walk from the University. Having run this for the second time, it became clear to me that there was something inherent in some of the spaces that were influencing the students' responses.

In my workshops, I lead the students through a few exercises that aim to bring them into a quiet state of mind and begin to connect with their sensory responses to the woodland space. We walk in various meditative ways and begin to make modest creative responses. This, I hope, warms them into responding directly to the woodland environment in an instinctive and physical way. Having done this, I then ask them to go off and find a space to create something of their own inspired only by what they can find in the woods.

Their responses to two spaces in particular caught my attention. The first was a densely wooded area with a narrow, worn path which takes you through a cool and dark space, so thick with growth that, even on a bright day, it is shaded and has an air of mystery about it. Last year and this year, both groups of students who created work in this area seemed to respond similarly: they both created smaller, almost hidden works that you had to scramble into small spaces to see. They were secretive sculptures, modest in scale, and created for only one or two people to find, and not viewable by a large group. They both had an element of magic about them too, with a feeling of fairy or folk lore about them, responding to the spirits in the woods or the miniature creatures that might live there but we never see.

The second space, by contrast, was a clearing in the middle of another densely wooded area, but which had large structural trees with low down, strong branches or multiple trunks. Again, both years the group of students who ended up in this space responded to those structures by building into them with other loose sticks that they found around the space. The results were abstract but also huge in scale, quite possibly requiring some climbing to achieve their outcome!

It was fascinating to me that both these spaces had inspired in both groups of students responses with such strong similarities, even though the students themselves were quite different in character from one year to the next. They were both picking up the same strong feelings from those spaces and working with the environment itself, listening to its suggestions and responding physically in really appropriate ways.

The other creation that I enjoyed was by a group of students who found a large stick. How many of us have picked up a stick, one that is pleasing to hold, that is just the right size to be held by a human comfortably. Again, responding instinctively, the students used rudimentary tools around the woods to make a split in the wood, attach a flatter piece at its head, and wind it with weed. They used tools to create a tool. When they spoke about the piece, they said it was an axe, made from the wood itself, but possibly something that could be used to cut the wood too. It was a symbol of both construction and destruction, as it also had the potential to become a violent weapon. They spoke of the dual ideas of humans as builders but also destroyers, and how our relationship with nature can be either. Humans, the tool makers, building but in doing so, taking from nature's own constructions.

Again, I loved how these ideas had come from something as simple as picking up a stick, and how the instinct to create tools had led to this philosophising. I can't wait to see what they have been thinking about since and what they will present this week.

Thanks to the University of York for inviting me, to St Nick's for being generous hosts and to Suzi Richer for the photos in this post.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Bradgate Park Excavation Open Day

I will be taking part in the Bradgate Park Excavation Day on 29 June, with the University of Leicester and the Bradgate Park Trust. I hope you can join us to discover more about the park and the progress of the archaeology Fieldschool excavations... it has certainly uncovered some surprises!

Click here to link to the event on Facebook.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Bone Landscapes

Future Fossil 3, 2019
I am very pleased to have written my first piece for Climate Cultures, a website that posts "creative conversations for the Anthropocene". My post is inspired by a series of new drawings that I am currently making, called "Future Fossils".

You can read Bone Landscapes at this link.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Microseasons: work in progress exhibition

I will be showing work in progress inspired by Aylestone Meadows at the George Davies Centre, University of Leicester, from 21st January.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Catching the Wind September

In late September I led my final walk in Aylestone Meadows.

As autumn sneaked up on me, I began to become more aware of the wind.  The Invisibility Walks also drew my attention to the wind, in the way it sounds, moves and its visual effects.

As part of the Walks I asked the group to sit in a field with blindfolds on.  One day it was very windy, and in this wide open space surrounded by trees, you could really hear the wind whirling around your head and sculpting the space in 360 degrees with its sound.  We all made drawings of swirling, spiraling shapes that day.

Another time, it was a still, bright day with a clear sky and a gentle breeze.  As the group settled into their blindfold listening, I gazed over the field to a line of willow trees.  As the breeze brushed against them, they sparkled their silvery leaves like sequins.

Since then I have been trying to catch the wind in my work.  On a sunny day I run down to the Meadows with a bowl and cyanotype paper and try to "print" the movement of the wind. Sometimes this doesn't work at all, but other times I have managed to catch movement and ghostly shapes in the prints.

Ash Keys, cyanotype, 2018
Willow and ash are both particularly good at responding to the wind. The elegance of ash keys, their weight drawing down the branches like clusters of chandeliers, become brushes as they move in the breeze. As I walk along the far western edge of the Meadows, there are ash trees that creak in the wind quite loudly, as if calling to you to notice them.

Willows are so flexible that their movement in the wind is marvelous, especially with that pale colour of the leaves that reflect light on a bright day and make them shimmer. The willows overhanging the river in the Meadows seem to dance with the light on the water, both moving with the wind together in a glittery waltz.

This week I have a meeting at the University of Leicester about an exhibition in the new year, when I hope to show some of my wind-catching experiments.