Call for subjects: ‘In a Green Shade’: The English & Nature.

Seeking nature lovers in every urban nook and rural cranny for an environmental portrait series celebrating our need for green.

Artist Mark McLaughlin in Brockwell Park, May 2020
Green thoughts…

During Lockdown, it’s never been more obvious how vital green spaces and countryside are to our health and happiness.

I would have been lost myself without our scrap of a front garden with its birdfeeder and the daily walk around Brockwell Park.

So when it came to thinking about my next personal project, I laid out the books I’d read in the last year and realised the answer was staring me in the face.

It’s nature, stupid.

So, here is the new project – I’d love you to take part, or tell me if you know someone who should.

‘In a Green Shade’: The English and Nature

We live in a tamed country, yet we are a nation of nature lovers. Our centrally-heated, triple-glazed smart-homes may be our castles, but our bird tables, gardens, parks, daily walks, Bank Holiday bike rides, camping weekends, and wild adventures are places of retreat and restoration. And whether in the urban jungle or the domesticated countryside, the solace nature offers is only ever a green thought away.  

Our minds turn to it for sport, for leisure, for respite from personal problems, for mindful relief from the hectic pace of life, for the delight of organic connections in a networked world, and in yearning for a greater beyond. Be they small and private or vast and communal, these contemporary places and moments speak of the same timeless need. As Nan Shepherd wrote of her beloved Cairngorms: “In a disturbed and uncertain world … my secret place of ease.”

The project

This personal photo project will take a wry and loving look at the English and nature, exploring and celebrating our diverse connection to the natural environment. The ways we nurture it, work and play in it, and the way we perpetually return to it. 

From paddle boarding on urban canals to feeding the ducks on a prized pond; from nurturing a window box to rewilding an ancient estate; 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)

You can check out the photos to date at this link

Who?

Anyone who loves nature and has a green place or story to share. I want to reflect the joyful diversity of modern English society in the mix of people and places I shoot.

  • Do your hobbies or free-time activities involve getting out into or back to nature?
  • Does your job involve being in/ supporting/ conserving the natural world or wildlife?
  • Do you work on, manage or produce from, the land?
  • Do you volunteer with an organisation that promotes rewilding, gardening, growing or any other sort of nature or conservation work?
  • Do you use nature for meditation & mindfulness or by contrast for group activities?
  • Is there a natural place – whether mountain top, window box or corner of a park – that is special to you and your memories, that you might share?

Where?

River deep, mountain high! Anywhere in England: city centre balcony; suburban park; wildlife reserve; agri-business; riverside, garden centre, allotment or any other place where nature has a hold.

How Long?

We can be as quick as you need, but it normally takes 20-30 minutes to show you and the environment you love in the best light.

How Do I Take Part?

If you’d like to take part, or know a person or organisation who might, please contact me at michael@michaelwharleyphoto.com, or on 07961 068759.

Covid 19?

We can be 2 metres apart at all times and need only minimal precautions, which I will take.

About

This is a personal project shot for non-commercial purposes and on a shoestring.

I am committed to reflecting the joyful diversity of modern English society in the mix of people and places I shoot.

If you take part, you will of course receive copies of any images when they are public.

I am actively exploring ways, whether through crowdfunding or other means, to make fundraising for environmental organisations an integral part of the project as it grows.