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In a Green Shade: The English & Nature

An ongoing environmental portrait project that explores & celebrates our diverse connections to this green & pleasant land.

This project was inspired by a sense of English environmental contradictions:

  • We see ourselves as a nation of nature lovers, yet England is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.
  • Our country is increasingly diverse of population, yet the perception of who the countryside belongs to & who can access it lags behind.
  • We have a proud land stewardship history going back millennia, yet climatic, social & technological change is challenging our models for preserving & maintaining those traditions.
  • Our growing population needs food but the evolving economic realities of modern farming are challenging & redefining its functions.
  • Climate change is a black cloud of despeciation, yet across England successful conservation, rewilding & reintroduction projects are showing we can rediversify our natural world.
  • Traditional ideas of preserving nature locally are being redefined by bold new perspectives that see conservation at a landscape level.
  • With Brexit approaching and the Union in peril ‘Englishness’ is more relevant than it has been for centuries, and yet, rightly or wrongly, it has has become entangled in public perception with ideas of insular nationalism.

I am travelling across the country to meet people and be introduced to their farming life, their environmental job, the outdoor pursuit or the eco-volunteer role, or simply the patch of green that is important to them.

From managing the industrial complex of a mega-farm to tending a beloved allotment; from advocating for environmental reform or running a reserve, to leaving food out for a hedgehog; from scaling mountain tops to walking the dog. “Annihilating all that’s made / To a green thought in a green shade.” (Andrew Marvell, The Garden)

To read more about the project, to get involved or to suggest a suitable person or organisation: Call for Subjects

In-a-Green-Shade

Behind the scenes on shoot in the Lake District

Taking a look behind the scenes on shoot with me and my assistant on the Lake District.

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green thoughts...

Errol Brockwell Community Greenhouses

"I'm just about to label the home-made jam for the shop" Errol, Brockwell Community Greenhouses

Will (with Dad, Pete) camping on the Peak District

"We climbed a hill and tonight we're going to have marshmallows on the fire" Will (with Dad, Pete) camping on the Peak District.

Ursula in the planters, Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses

Dwayne Fields: Adventurer, Scouts Ambassador & Environmental Advocate, Leyton Flats

"My earliest memories outdoors: running wild in Jamaican woods and fields." Dwayne Fields: Adventurer, Scouts Ambassador & Environmental Advocate, Leyton Flats

Dwayne Fields: Adventurer, Scouts Ambassador & Environmental Advocate, Leyton Flats

"Young people realise you don't need to front out here; you can be vulnerable, find out who you want to be.' Dwayne Fields: Adventurer, Scouts Ambassador & Environmental Advocate, Leyton Flats

Lev Parikian in West Norwood Cemetery

"I look out for the elusive Green woodpecker and the Jay, just to say 'Ah, they're there'" writer & conductor Lev Parikian in West Norwood Cemetery. Author of 'Into the Tangled Bank'.

writer & conductor Lev Parikian in West Norwood Cemetery

"It's a place of peace, quiet, a bit of space to allow the brain to process the doings of the day," writer & conductor Lev Parikian in West Norwood Cemetery. Author of 'Into the Tangled Bank'.

Yvonne in her garden

"It's not really planned, if I can make it a bit blingy I like it - I love colour, so I just stick in what's around and hope." Yvonne in her garden, Sherburn-in-Elmet, N Yorks

Yvonne Sherburn-in-Elmet N Yorks

"If it hadn't been for the garden I'd have been chewing the carpet during lockdown - it's always been something creative to do," Yvonne, Sherburn-in-Elmet N Yorks

Danielle at home with her plants

Danielle, at home with her plants, Barking, East London.

Danielle, at home with her plants

"The plants I've bought in lockdown need care: moving them around, seeing what room they flourish in, watering, caring, pruning, even talking to them...gives me a sense of routine, peace and calm," Danielle, Barking, East London.

Danielle at home with her plants

"I make cuttings, give them away and get them from friends - a whole new family of plant mothers on Instagram," Danielle, Barking, East London.

Ann Sevier

13th Generation New Forest Commoner Ann Sevier

Ann Sevier

12th Generation New Forest Commoner Ann Sevier

Tom wild camping, Lake District

"For me it's a bit of an addiction, you're trying to capture the perfect conditions for a photo, whether it's a sunset, sunrise or an inversion -it'll never end" Tom wild camping, Lake District

Daniel & his brother Shaun wild camping

"We all met through Instagram and come out wild camping together -it's great to be in the outdoors with likeminded people," Daniel & his brother Shaun wild camping, Eastern Fells, Lake District

Andrew wild camping Lake District

"It pushes the reset button every time: it's about disconnecting and sleeping out on the fells, even though we're taking pictures to put on social media!" Andrew wild camping, Lake District

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Mya-Rose Craig a.k.a Birdgirl, Birdwatcher, environmental activist, founder of Black2Nature

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Mya-Rose Craig a.k.a Birdgirl, Birdwatcher, environmental activist, founder of Black2Nature

mya-rose-craig-theatre-portrait-musician-photography-poster-key-art-film-theatre-michael-wharley-5

Mya-Rose Craig a.k.a Birdgirl, Birdwatcher, environmental activist, founder of Black2Nature

Phil & Simon on their allotment

"We grow all sorts - courgettes, salad, tomatoes" Phil & Simon on their allotment, Crystal Palace

Phil & Simon on their allotment

"We were here every day during lockdown, it was an escape and almost meditative" Phil & Simon on their allotment, Crystal Palace

Tory (with Doug & Kiwi) on Folly Farm

"This is my future - I'm the third generation of farmers - I joined our business last year." Tory (with Doug & Kiwi) on Folly Farm, Berkshire.

David & Tory (with Doug & Kiwi) on Folly Farm

"We've been here 33 years since the motorway went through the old farm back in Swindon; it's 1000 acres, owned and rented" David & Tory (with Doug & Kiwi) on Folly Farm, near The Ridgeway National Trail, Berkshire.

David & Tory on Folly Farm, on chalk uplands, near the National Ridgeway Trail, Berkshire.

David & Tory on Folly Farm, near the National Ridgeway Trail, Berkshire.

David on Folly Farm

"We are so lucky, it's a good life and just look around you - I'd hate to have a 2 hour commute every day" David on Folly Farm, near The Ridgeway National Trail, Berkshire.

Abraham Habte Michael of Bouquets

"People want colour, beauty and nature in their homes - it's a gift people always want and need." Abraham Habte Michael of Bouquets & Beans, Kennington.

Abraham Habte Michael of Bouquets & Beans

"In Summer it's the best job in the world in the sun, but winter less so!" Abraham Habte Michael of Bouquets & Beans, Kennington .

Brockwell Community Greenhouses

"After my mum's cancer diagnosis I replanted lots from her Scottish moorland garden in the orchard here" Cat near the wildflower border, Brockwell Community Greenhouses

The St Matthew’s Project Football Team Coaches

The St Matthew's Project Football Team Volunteer Coaches, Brixton

The St Matthew’s Project Football Team Coaches

The St Matthew's Project Football Team Volunteer Coaches, Brixton

The St Matthew’s Project Football Team Coaches

The St Matthew's Project Football Team Volunteer Coaches, Brixton

The St Matthew’s Project Football Team Coaches

The St Matthew's Project Football Team Volunteer Coaches, Brixton

The St Matthew’s Project Football Team Coaches

The St Matthew's Project Football Team Volunteer Coaches, Brixton

Sabrina trimming gooseberries, Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses

Sabrina topping and tailing gooseberries, Brockwell Park Community Garden Greenhouses

Artist Mark McLaughlin in Brockwell Park

Artist Mark McLaughlin in the park

Artist Mark McLaughlin in Brockwell Park

Artist Mark McLaughlin in the park

Plastic Patrol Ambassador Tom Rooke

"This is urban paddling at its best - you see swans, heron, willow trees lapping at the water's edge, but graffiti, skyscrapers, building works too." Planet Patrol Ambassador Tom Rooke

Plastic Patrol Ambassador Tom Rooke

"I saw an advert on facebook - I went along, was given tuition, a lifejacket, a litter pick, a paddle board and paddle and went out into the elements to pull trash out of the canal - something just clicked" Planet Patrol Ambassador Tom Rooke.

Plastic Patrol Ambassador Tom Rooke

"Ten per cent is my nature tax, the river gives me so much so every ten paddles I'll do a plastic pickup day," Planet Patrol Ambassador Tom Rooke

Victoria picking walnuts in the orchard

"I've been volunteering here for about 9 months- I don't have a garden so I love it," Victoria picking walnuts, Brockwell Community Greenhouses

Vincent Brockwell Community Greenhouses

"This place is magic - I'm here as much as I can be," Vincent, Brockwell Community Greenhouses

Ben in the orchard, Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses

Ben in the orchard, Brockwell Park Community Garden Greenhouses

Chris in the greenhouse shop

"In the 'hot border' we grow sub tropical plants to show the effects of climate change - they wouldn't have survived here 100 years ago" Chris, in the greenhouse shop, Brockwell Community Greenhouses

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