Delights of nature

Walthamstow illustrator Emma Bond
Walthamstow illustrator Emma Bond

Helen Bigham finds joy in the small things

Nature is on our doorstep and research has shown that getting outdoors or even viewing scenes of nature reduces anger, fear, and increases pleasant feelings.

The act of looking out of your window is associated with lower stress and reduced mortality. Lucky for me I’ve a cherry blossom tree in bloom outside my home, but wherever I am in the borough I can find natural beauty, such as a rainbow over St James Street Station. Nature is inspirational for me, but so is the history of where I live. Rather fittingly, the novelist Michael Crichton said: “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”

Local heritage should be celebrated and be in the heart of our community. Suntrap, an environmental education centre based in Epping Forest, has recently received funding from the ‘Great Place: Creative Connections’ scheme, delivering a programme of activities in Waltham Forest called ‘Suntrap On Tour’. Great Place is funded by Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund and aims to enable arts, culture and heritage groups to work more closely together, supporting positive outcomes for the local community.

While the Suntrap site is undergoing major redevelopment work it will be providing outreach visits to schools in Waltham Forest; a ‘Suntrap Legacy’ roadshow will travel around local libraries.

Helping make the selection for the weird and wonderful artefacts to go on display will be the ‘Young Producers’ from the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. They’re a group of 16- to 25-year-old volunteers who produce, curate, organise, and host events for young people at the gallery and within Waltham Forest. They also get the opportunity to work with artists and creative professionals and visit exhibitions across London. Currently, they’re collaborating with London Borough of Culture 2019 on a series of networking events for young people interested in pursuing a career within the arts.

There’s also been a commission with Walthamstow illustrator Emma Bond, to be an artist in residence at Suntrap. Much of her work captures the interdependency of heritage buildings and nature. She says: “Through documenting the beautiful wildlife and buildings they’ve called home for so long, I hope I can capture the magical spirit and stories it has to tell. I feel envious of children growing up in the borough and experiencing a school trip here.”

I’m looking forward to getting a feel-good boost from her sketches.