Grave News: In a Green Shade with Lev Parikian

My nature portrait project opens by meeting nature writer Lev Parikian among the tombstones in West Norwood Cemetery.

I first came across local naturalist, nature writer, conductor, & all-round top chap Lev Parikian via his tweets about a pair of Peregrine Falcons who live in West Norwood church, close to my Brixton home.

But I stayed as a Twitter follower for his musings on music, cricket and all-things natural-worldy, including the fantastic Twitter Birdsong Project.

So, when I began to shoot my new project ‘In a Green Shade: The English & Nature,’ exploring and celebrating our national love of the natural world, he was one of the first people I wanted to photograph. And thankfully, he was game!

A Walk amongst the Tombstones

The project is all about the diverse ways we need, seek, use, protect and enjoy nature, whether for work, leisure, pleasure or for environmental reasons.

For Lev, West Norwood Cemetery unites of all his professional and personal interests in one green spot, and was a haven during 2020 Lockdown, so it made perfect sense to shoot and chat there.

We met on a fine June day, and while I snapped, Lev discussed what he finds amongst the tombstones: which birds, plants and animals he looks out for each day; the solace he takes within the cemetery walls; and why it is the focus of his next book: a view of the South London landscape through the prism of Japanese microseasons.

In a Green Shade

Hopefully the images above give a flavour the cemetery’s atmosphere, but as well as photographing Lev, I also interviewed him about his love of the cemetery and his recent book, Into the Tangled Bank, which is also about our national love of all things nature.

He described the sounds of the cemetery and displayed an uncanny knack for identifying birds from their song. Could you tell a Black Cap from its melody?

Into the Tangled Bank

Buy ‘Into the Tangled Bank

NB. since our shoot, Lev has released another new book to delighted reviews, read about it and buy it here: ‘Music to Eat Cake By‘.

In a Green Shade: The English & Nature Project

Want to take part, or know someone who should?

What:

Pictures of people in a green place that is important to them.

You can the entire portrait project to date here

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 photograph. So, anyone of any creed, ethnic background or political persuasion who:

  • Works on, manages or produces from, the land, in any way.
  • Works in conservation, rewilding or wildife management.
  • Works in traditional ways on the land or keeps unique English traditions or practices alive.
  • Writes about the natural world, be it fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or music.
  • Specialises in a particular area of environmental advocacy.
  • Enjoys a sport, game, or outdoor pursuit that is particuarly English
  • Uses nature for meditation & mindfulness or for group activities
  • Has a special connection a natural place – whether mountain top, window box or corner of a park .

Where?

Anywhere in England: river deep, mountain high!

Moortop, mountain top, river valley, city centre balcony; suburban park; wildlife reserve; agri-business; riverside, garden centre, allotment or any other place where nature has a hold.

When?

Anytime in the next few years – this is an ongoing project.

How Long?

We can be quick, but it normally takes 30-45 minutes to show the person and the environment 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.