St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Connecting with Nature – Nature Art

A rainbow coloured nature mandala
Andy Goldsworthy land art

In times of stress Nature Art can bring us closer to nature with all the associated benefits of feeling more connected and relaxed. Collecting materials from nature such as petals, stones, leaves and seed cones can be a mindfulness practice of its own and we can use these materials to make and create. Here Ecotherapy Assistant Hannah Kenter will be talking about the benefits of Nature Art, a non-consumerist enjoyment, with fantastic pay back in terms of wellbeing. Find out how this form of art can connect us with the seasons and teach us about letting go.

Photo shows materials collected for a mandala such as leaves, flowers and pine cones.

Nature Art materials I collected at my local woodland Jun 20

Nature Art can remind us of the passing of time as often such creations are temporary, we’re reminded that ‘this too shall pass’, as our worries often do in time. We’re reminded of the seasons as we notice wildflowers in spring and conkers in autumn, we can’t help but notice that nature is always in flux and that we are part of a rich web of interdependent life. Loving nature makes us want to protect it which is good for all of us.

Making a nature mandala is one of my favourite creative ways to get closer to nature. Collect leaves, petals, stones or any other suitable materials that are different colours, shapes and textures.Photo shows purple thistles in front of a blue sky and grass meadow

Start small as I have or if you have the time or a group of friends who want to join in, go large. Create a circle in the earth where you want to place your mandala and begin placing the items you have collected in the centre and move outwards. If you can, take your time when you collect and place the materials, feel the textures, notice the details and enjoy the process, it can be very intimate and satisfying. In the next hours or days the wind will blow away the leaves or the rain will dissolve the petals and nature will give you a gentle reminder about letting go or non-attachment.

We’re lucky to have our very own nature artist in York, Mim Robson who specialises in ephemeral work including Land Art. Mim designs intricate nature mandala cards and her other work can be viewed at York Open Studios . A fellow friend of Yorkshire, Andy Goldsworthy grew up near Harrogate, Goldsworthy is a  renowned land artist whose work can be viewed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Goldsworthy is a sculptor, photographer and environmentalist who produces site-specific sculptures and land art situated in natural and urban settings.  Land Art by Andy Goldsworthy

Photo shows a nature mandala, a circle of seeds with leaves, multicoloured flowers surrounding the edges and smaller flowers.

Hannah’s nature mandala

We might not want to work on the same scale as Land Artists often do, but we can draw inspiration from them into smaller scale projects. I love this “how to make a nature mobile” from the Sensory Trust. A great incentive to go outside, look around and notice how textures and colours change with the seasons whilst sculpting a mobile from twigs, leaves and flowers.

The ancient art of flower pressing is simple to try and one of the best known nature arts. It can be fitted in to the busiest schedule. I put this to the test on a nature walk with my young son and I found that all I needed was a book and a piece of newspaper folded inside. Following the ‘one in twenty’ rule, I made sure that for every wildflower I picked, there were twenty remaining, this ensures that the plant can continue to grow for the benefit of other wildlife and people. I popped them into my book with newspaper in and a

A photo of a black pebble, surrounding by a ring of gold in a dark blue stream

Land art by Andy Goldsworthy

few days later during a quiet moment I sneaked a peek and was delighted to see that the beautiful bright flowers were freshly pressed, I grabbed some paper and glue and made a long overdue card for a friend. The Natural History Museum have shared this wonderful flower pressing guide which we recommend.

So, be inspired on your next nature walk and if you haven’t been out for a while, now is a good time to press flowers and collect materials. If you can’t get out, perhaps you’re shielding or for other health reasons you will find inspiration online, try our Letters from the Allotment online Saturday nature art challenge or one of our other Ecotherapy online groups.

On a final note, as lockdown restrictions are easing many of us are hoping that we will build back better, we might not be so quick to go back to the usual consuming and wasteful habits. Nature Art is a non-consumerist joy, it doesn’t cost a penny and the payback goes far beyond anything money can buy.

26 June 2020 | Categories: Ecotherapy, Inspiration, Opinion Piece | Tags: art, ecotherapy, flowers, leaves, mandala, mental health, mental wellbeing, nature art, petals