Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust: Good time to reflect on connection with nature
Just over a year ago I sat at my dining table connecting with colleagues via video calls trying to work out how on earth we were going to deal with the overwhelming response we’d received to our lockdown-themed Open Call to artists, writes Erin McDaid of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.
In response to the original lockdown we had asked people to submit designs inspired by nature and their connection with green space during what had already been a challenging few months for everyone.
Like many other organisations the lockdown imposed in March 2020 had severely impacted the way in which we worked. The majority of staff switched to working at home and the teams responsible for caring for our nature reserves had the difficult task of being based at home while still needing to travel to our sites and to arrange essential work to keep the reserves in good order and to keep the sites open for people to exercise and seek solace in nature.
Our events and community engagement programme had all but shut down, except for a few hastily arranged online sessions and, like everyone else, we were all quickly coming to terms with restrictions placed on our ability to see the people we loved and to visit the places we loved.
At the same time, we were witnessing a clear and almost unstoppable desire from people to continue to connect with nature, whether via the web, in their gardens or on local green spaces.
A number of our nature reserves, including Besthorpe and Skylarks at Holme Pierrepoint, were busier than ever before — with people hugely valuing the fact we had decided not to simply close our sites like some had chosen to do.
To capture this unique time when some people were connecting with nature more intensely than ever before, rediscovering their love of nature or sadly struggling because they couldn’t connect in the usual way; we launched an Open Call asking artists to submit postcard-sized artwork that represented what nature meant to them.
We promised to exhibit all the entries at our Idle Valley Nature Reserve near Retford later in the year — not anticipating that we would receive nearly a thousand entries or that it would be over a year until we would be able to safely open the exhibition.
Almost 13 months on from our closing date for entries we are delighted to have finally got the exhibition up, ready and open to the public.
We hope that many people will take the opportunity to view the stunning and eclectic range of wonderful designs.
That we chose to exhibit artwork linked to people’s connection with nature at our Idle Valley reserve also now seems serendipitous as this reserve was one of many discovered by a new audience during lockdowns.
Set against the wonderful view from the centre looking out over Belmoor Lake, at the southern end of the reserve, the artworks look amazing.
The emotion and passion so clearly represented in the designs also serves as a reminder that we should perhaps take time to ensure we do not lose sight of what was, while challenging, in many ways a special time for some as they rediscovered nature or simply had more time to appreciate the simple things in life that are so often overlooked or taken for granted.
I hope that readers will consider visiting the exhibition but I would also urge everyone to reflect on what wildlife and green spaces have meant over the past 18 months and take steps to ensure that there is no danger of losing your connection with nature whatever the future may hold.
Whether yours is a life-long passion or a newly discovered interest in the natural world, it is worth working to ensure that as the myriad of distractions and time pressures that unquestionably shaped our daily lives before the pandemic vie evermore vociferously for our attention – we take steps to keep in touch with nature so we can benefit from what our connection with it brings to our lives.
For further details visit nottinghamshirewildlife.org
— Erin McDaid,
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust