The Garden Shed

People like to joke about men retreating to the shed to escape a nagging wife or household chores. But there’s a positive side to this too. A shed can become a refuge, a haven, a space away – to enjoy solitude or gardening or woodwork maybe. It’s an outdoor shelter. And it’s spawned an entire movement. All over Britain there are now men shed groups in all different locations and communities. Many are allied to Men’s Shed UK, a network organisation. Age UK runs various Men In Sheds premises, and sometimes man sheds become part of care farming initiatives.

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The growth of men sheds as a movement illustrates the importance of nature, of creativity and of community alike in wellbeing. Participants might never think about “nature connectedness” or “mindfulness in nature”, but working in the sheds – and gardens and allotments which usually surround the sheds – can be elemental, connecting with the soil, the weather, fresh air and cycles of growth. Participants might also be doubtful about “creativity”. I myself have seen how far fewer men than women take part in arts for wellbeing. But using tools to do whittling or wood carving or wood turning or repairing just is creative. Just as I find painting and drawing absorbs, focuses, stimulates and calms my mind, so too will these other creative pastimes. Occupying the hands can occupy the mind as well.

And clearly, if men attend a shed, they gain “community”. Some might prefer to spend time in their own shed, alone, but for many sharing time and tasks with others will be more motivating. Men sheds can create a natural and low-key environment for men in particular to gather and be productive. This can combat loneliness & isolation, and create opportunities to express and share issues or concerns just as part of chatting and being together.

Early on in the Covid pandemic, many counsellors and therapists met clients outdoors, and some found this actually more helpful. Talking and listening while walking proved more natural and spontaneous, and less intimidating, for some people. I think this mirrors the impact of men sheds. While many men will attend simply to work or to chat, for some this will be an opportunity to share their feelings – for people who might never think to ask to see a counsellor. It could make a real difference.

One shed I’ve come across is to be found at the Don’t Lose Hope community garden in Bourne, near Peterborough. Linked to Men’s Shed Uk, it is nonetheless open to all. I’ve seen pictures of the shed and garden and this looks like a really productive and cooperative space, indoors and out. Different groups meet in the shed through the week, such as a young men’s group, a whittling group, a tool group and one for military personnel. Don’t Lose Hope is primarily a counselling and mental health initiative, and recognises that the garden and shed can open up a space for participants to share and talk while they work.

Have you or people you know attended or run a men shed? It would be great if you would like to share any experiences or other ideas in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002

What’s New?

It may be my inner nerd, but I like September and the idea of new beginnings – back to work or school, activity gearing up again as holidays recede. No, I don’t like the darker evenings of autumn – or the thought of winter ahead – but I do like its fresh start. It’s a time to think about doing differently, about trying something new if that’s possible, even if only in a small way. I do think that can really help wellbeing.

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I heard recemtly that since Covid, people have started taking up more new hobbies, pastimes & interests. The examples I heard were learning to surf, writing a book or learning to fly a plane. But obviously there are many, many possibilities, some more viable than others! Partly people started looking for new interests back in lockdown, when suddenly time opened up and they were at a loose end. But it’s also since lockdowns ended and life has returned to a more familiar pace that people have wanted to throw themselves into life all the more, to make the most of opportunities and to experiment and live life to the full.

Living life to the full can look very different to different people! You don’t have to take to the waves or to the sky. I also heard a separate survey which found that more younger adults have taken up traditional hobbies since lockdown, like gardening, painting, knitting and birdwatching. Covid turned life on its head for a while, and people started to think more widely about how to spend time. Pastimes themselves can be really positive, calming or stimulating, but so too can simply trying something new.

Hobbies and pastimes might seem flimsy ways to improve mental health and wellbeing. They won’t solve whatever issues may be going on in your life, but they will create stimulus, purpose, time out and a refuge – all known to improve wellbeing. They can ease overthinking for a time. They can reduce boredom and even loneliness, such enemies of wellbeing. One thing can lead on to another, and new hobbies can open other doors. Yes, it can be difficult to feel motivated, to find any spare time at all, or to focus and concentrate: but seize the odd moment here and there and see what helps or works. This in itself can aid concentration and motivate people to do more. New interests can also build self-expression and renew confidence.

Maybe you will try something daring and elemental, like learning to surf or to fly. Or maybe you’ll find time to knit or to plant bulbs for spring. Focus on trying something different and new to you, however small. Try a new art medium. Take autumn themed photos of berries and leaves and print these out to make cards or a montage to display in your home. Record the signs of autumn you see, like the last swallow and the first leaf tint and fall, and log these with The Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar survey. Listen to a music genre that’s new to you, or experiment with playing an instrument – percussion can be a great way to improvise. Look at the Do It website to find a volunteering opportunity from home or outdoors. Start to learn a language – 26 September is the Day of Languages.

It would be great to hear what you’re thinking of trying, in Medley’s Facebook group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002

Down Time

Wellbeing is rarely simple. It’s a knotty and complex question. What helps one person’s wellbeing might do little for someone else. And so many different emotions come into play: joy, contentment, calm, hope, positivity, stimulus. It’s about far more than rest and relaxation alone, but these are important for anyone to “be well”. And I’ve just heard that 15 August is National Relaxation Day.

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August has long been about rest and relaxation, enjoying the sunshine. School’s out, so is parliament, and many people go away. It’s like a period of down time before activity gears up again as September begins.

Obviously August isn’t a holiday month for everyone. Living in the countryside, I’m aware that harvesting makes this one of the busiest times of year for farmers. Then there are people unable to get away because of commitments or illness. And there are people like me who see holidays more as an endurance test and who rest and relax in other ways! But whether August is holiday time for you or more like any other month, those “other ways” – interests like art, music or nature – can all become opportunities to rest and relax, which I do know is really important.

One positive side of musing music, art and nature to relax is that you can fit them in whenever it becomes possible, you don’t need to set aside time. Fifteen minutes here and there, half an hour or a couple of hours, can all refresh you here and now.

I wonder what music would be on a relaxing playlist for you. Maybe try something different and new to you. Piano music can be particularly relaxing: slow and reflective, dreamy and contemplative. Try listening to Chopin’s Prelude “The Raindrop” (Op 28 No 15), Piano Concerto No 2 by Shostakovich, or Einaudi’s Le Onde. Choral music like Faure’s Requiem or pieces by John Rutter can be uplifting and calming at once. Or try upbeat, lively songs like I Will Survive – relaxation doesn’t have to be sleepy! Or listen to a reflective song like Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay, or Elton John’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight from The Lion King.

Then try experimenting with art or craft, maybe an art form or medium you’ve never used before, like glass painting, pastels or stencilling. Colouring or drawing abstract patterns can be particularly restful, as there’s something about the order and balance of patterns that relaxes my mind. Or paint stylized flowers. Photography is something I think many people take for granted now they have phone cameras to hand all the time. Try making photography a slow, mindful, thoughtful activity, maybe trying macrophotography like some close-ups of plants. Art and craft are so productive, active and creative that they can become a positive outlet for your mind and your hands, relaxing you for a time.

Relax by experiencing nature as well, maybe listening to nature’s sounds online, like birdsong or waves on a shore. Or sometimes walking, cycling or running, being physically active, can be more relaxing than sitting in the shade or in the sun. They all take the mind (as well as the body) somewhere else – and fresh air and exertion, if possible, can also make you rest and sleep more easily.

These are just some ideas, maybe one or two might be possible for you to try. Or maybe you would like to share other ideas in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002

Climbing On Camera

Imagine mountain climbing and photographing your way around the world and you have some idea how US climber Jimmy Chin has spent the last twenty or more years. I first heard of Jimmy Chin last year when he published There and Back, a photographic book which also shares his life story. Photographs and documentary films like his open to me, and to many others, terrain I or we are unlikely ever to experience for ourselves. They allow me a glimpse of a very different way of living and being. They draw the extreme into the everyday.

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Many of us like to experience nature at first jand, maybe to explore wilder or remote landscapes or just to get outside to the park. Many of us also enjoy being active in nature, maybe running, walking, cycling or wild swimming. And many of us like to photographor video what we see. All these experiences can draw us out of ourselves. Some people take them further than others, pushing boundaries, undertaking extreme or adventure sports, going higher, further, deeper.

Jimmy Chin has climbed on all seven of the world’s continents, on rock, ice and snow, narrowly escaping death on different mountain ranges. Initially a “dirtbag climber”, living in his car for several years, a life he now misses, Chin came to others’ notice as his climbing progressed. Inspired by the wildernesses he inhabited, he began photographing his own and others’ climbs as well. He has gone on to shoot some of the world’s most extreme terrain and scenery, and some of the daring and skill of the people who climb that terrain. Looking at his images, nature stands out, but so too do human experiences of nature: in the vastness of the mountains, the climbers stand out, small in scale but drawing the eye in their colourful gear, bold against the monochrome landscape of snow and rock.

To me photography is all about the moment, being so focused on that moment that you want to preserve and hold the moment so it stands outside time. But Jimmy Chin writes how he has struggled with the way photograph took him out of the moment, when it was living in the moment which was a spur to his climbing. Maybe it’s all how you understand being in the moment. Maybe wondering when and where to shoot, what to leave out, you are thinking and assessing instead of simply being there. But in another way I feel that you are all the more in the moment as you observe more closely.

Jimmy Chin makes documentary films for National Geographic and co-directs cinema and streaming films with his wife. Extreme skiing is another of his pursuits, skiing down no less than Mount Everest some years ago.

Few of us will climb mountains let alone on every continent. Few of us will spend time in such wild terrain. Few of us will photograph such landscapes. But images and films like these can inspire with their power and otherness and scale. Simply looking at these photographs can become in itself an encounter with wilderness and adventure. They might also inspire us to seek out our own experiences of nature, maybe closer to home, but still an encounter with the wildness of all nature.

You may have thoughts on these, or other ideas – It would be great to hear any responses in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002

Call Of The Wild

Awe, wonder, empathy, caring – just a few of the ways you might respond to animals. Maybe you like interacting with them. Stroking an animal’s fur, grooming a horse or feeling a pet or companion animal’s warmth beside you can all be reassuring and therapeutic. It’s interacting with another living being, a feeling of connecting and relating. There’s no need for spoken language, which can also be helpful if people have speech or communication issues. Some people take therapy animals into care homes, and more schools now have a school dog. Care farming creates opportunities to relate to farm animals, maybe familiar ones, like cows and pigs, or the less familiar, like alpacas.

Roe Deer, Giant Panda and Leopard by Isobel Murdoch

Some of us respond to wild animals: to the unknown, the elusive, the thrill of a sudden glimpse, sheer wild and untamed nature. The UK has comparatively few wild mammal species, but still a sighting of a stoat perhaps, streaking across the road, is possible, or of an urban fox, kindling your imagination. Even looking out for signs of wildlife – burrows on a bank or mole hills on a roadside verge – can open a window on a different, hidden world. I remember once seeing a mole above ground during daylight, alive and moving but out of its element, and it set me imagining what its underground life is like.

Like birds, animals add movement and energy to the outdoors. They live their lives largely unaware of us, wild and free but alsp dependent on getting through each day. They are unpredictable. They open up new perspectives on life, for they’re oblivious to issues which might preoccupy us.

Wildlife film making and photography open up another world of opportunity to experience wild animals, wherever you are. Watching wildlife on screen is stimulating, a burst of colour and movement and life. Photography itself is powerful, and some images stand out. I was immediately struck by a 2005 photograph I saw by Paras Chandaria, of a giraffe on the edge of Nairobi, amidst low trees, with the city’s skyscrapers silhouetted behind. The image was taken to highlight all that could be lost to a new railway line. And yes, the more we see wildlife’s fragility the more we might treasure what we see.

For me and for many other people, art becomes a way to interact with wildlife. It’s an opportunity to observe more closely, to focus on what truly sets an animal apart, to enter their world. Trying to capture an animal’s expression or the look of their fur can become very absorbing! And in that time, other issues can recede for a time and you can zone out and concentrate on creativity. Participants in my Birds A-Z Challenge last year shared how alongside the art itself, learning about the world’s birds was a very positive experience. Now it’s the animals’ turn, as my Animals A-Z Art For Wellbeing Challenge is set to start on August 4.

There’s no need to commit to the entire A-Z, participants just sign up and then take part as and when they want to! From alpaca to zebra, via donkey, gorilla, giant panda and tiger…Each week we’ll focus on a different letter of the alphabet, to draw, paint or occasionally craft animals beginning with that letter. Participants will receive ideas, and an example image with instructions, by email each week, and there will be a dedicated private Facebook group for participants to share artwork, tips and ideas. It will also be an opportunity to explore how and why wildlife (and art) help boost wellbeing, so you could also share sightings or photos…– to sign up please go to Animals A-Z Art For Wellbeing Challenge Tickets, Thu 4 Aug 2022 at 15:00 | Eventbrite

Or if you would like to share thoughts now about how animals impact on wellbeing, then it would be great to hear them in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you.

On A Different Note

Yes, music’s impact on dementia is well known, and there are many different initiatives and opportunities. But there’s also growing need and demand as dementia becomes ever more common, and here I’m thinking about some different ways of sharing music and sound, and how these could impact people in diverse ways.

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Three possibilities stand out. I know some people find it helpful to experiment with playing an instrument, rather than listening, particularly in the early or middle stages of dementia. This specific area could develop. Musical instruments tend to be expensive, and someone new to music might have no idea which to try. Subsidised instruments would be great, as well as support and guidance on which to try, which might be most suited to improvisation – maybe percussion or keyboard. This could open up new opportunities and enable active music-making which could be empowering.

The second area which stands out is the need to find imaginative ways to share music with people who have dementia and are housebound. So much music for dementia focuses on care homes (inevitably there are more opportunities here as they are organized group settings) or day centres or groups like the Singing For The Brain groups run by Alzheimer’s Society. But many people who have dementia live in their own or their families’ homes, and are largely or entirely housebound. When they – and their family carers – struggle their way though each day’s routine tasks, getting to experience music could seem unimportant or irrelevant and a sideshow. But it is far from that. There are now more opportunities to enjoy music at home through technology, with streamed performances. There are also tools like the BBC Music Memories web app, a great way to locate music from a particular era, maybe when the person who has dementia was young, and BBC Memory Radio. More such initiatives would help. And as more events and groups return to being in-person now that Covid has moved to a new phase, it’s so important that virtual, online and streamed alternatives continue as well. It’s also good to highlight how listening at home can even be more positive, as it’s more flexible in time and taste – we all have strong likes and dislikes and music is very personal.

Nor should we assume that every person who has dementia will want to listen to music, all or even any of the time. Silence can be important as well, and some people may find music too loud or distressing. Listening to sounds of the natural world can also be very helpful as an alternative, such as recorded birdsong, a waterfall or waves on a seashore. It would be great if online recorded sounds were more widely known and shared with this use in mind.

There are so many different impacts music and song can and do have. I’ve only highlighted three specific areas – support to play an instrument, more specific opportunities for people who are housebound, and a flexible focus covering natural sound as well as music. You may have thoughts on these, or other ideas – it would be great to hear any responses in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002

Under The Microscope

Maybe you too have seen the dazzling images just released from the James Webb Space Telescope, and wanted to discover more? When connecting with nature is recognised as a powerful way of boosting wellbeing, then experiencing and learning more about science could also do just that. It’s a way of deepening nature connection, but it’s also more than that.

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Science is so immense and diverse that it’s an endless stimulus. Stimulating our minds can ease depression, improve cognition and also reduce overthinking, as it inspires different thoughts. Yes, focusing on those different thoughts can be impossible when anxiety, depression or illness take hold, but sometimes they can and will help.

Every science will differ. Think about astronomy and space science. These can open up an entirely different perspective on the world and on life. Learning about the vast expanses of space or the mystery of space time, anxiety might shrink, issues may look different. Watching the night sky or following news of space research like the James Webb Space Telescope could become an escape, a refuge. And on the other hand, looking at the tiniest details of an item under a microscope, like pollen grains, can also create a different perspective.

Science can enhance life on so many different levels. Discover more about meteorology and suddenly watching a weather forecast has more significance. Science can become a way of taking any interest further – enjoying sports, say, might spur you on to learn more about sports science and about physics, the laws of movement and motion – or a day at the coast fossil-hunting could get you learning what palaeontology is really all about. Experiencing trees is known to be calming, so go on to learn more about them and gain more from the experience.

Then there’s the science of wellbeing itself. You might like to discover more about why nature connection is known to improve wellbeing and recovery, or why arts have an impact on mood and why music releases the “happy” hormone dopamine.

Some people respond to science in creative ways, and this can further deepen our experience. Try listening to music inspired by science or the natural world, such as Holst’s Planets, or Somewhere Over The Rainbow, or Deep River, or River Deep, Mountain High, or The Spaceman Came Travelling, or Dark Side Of The Moon. You could listen while you learn more about outer space, or rainbows, or rivers. Or learn about the science behind music itself, how an instrument is made or how hearing works or about beat and rhythm.

Art too depends on science. Think about how paint is made, or how to dye fabric, or how specific colours complement each other. Or try painting, drawing, colouring or crafting animals, birds, plants or insects, or scientific phenomena you learn about. Find out about art installations on a science theme, like the Museum Of The Moon which recently toured the UK.

Science has come to life for me more as an adult, and there are so many areas to explore. Stimulus, wonder, wellbeing.

It would be great if you would like to share in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 how you respond to science: do you find science can improve wellbeing? Thank you.

Painting An Idyll

While many people know from experience how doing art and craft themselves can boost wellbeing and absorb their minds, there still seems far less interest in the impact enjoying other people’s art can have. Lots of peple who enjoy being creative might never think to look at a famous painting, or if they do, might never consider that it too might lift their spirits or be calming or positive.

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All art will have different impacts. I’ve been thinking about the art of one of France’s most famous painters, Claude Monet, and what impact it might have on wellbeing. As one of the leaders of the French Impressionists, Monet helped transform and liberate art, making it more experimental, colourful and everyday.

So many of Monet’s paintings exude light, colour and life. He painted outdoors a lot of the time (itself an innovative way of working) and experimented with brushwork and use of colour. Look at some of these paintings (just search for them online) – The Terrace At Sainte-Adresse, Woman With A Parasol (Madame Monet and her son), Regatta in Argenteuil, and Monet’s Garden At Vetheuil. Light sparkles on the water, clouds scud across the sky, flowers and grasses add shades of colour. Just looking at these paintings lifts the spirits.

Time spent with paintings like these can be calming and restful, because they transport you to a rural or waterside idyll. Mostly the sun shines, the sky is blue, plants grow and thrive. And as you might guess from an Impressionist, what Monet paints truly are impressions, panoramas, glimpses of a moment. He recreates nature on canvas, but there’s little specific detail, more an impression of the wider scene. For us, these scenes can become time out. Maybe you’re in a city, or it’s raining, or you’re anxious or depressed. Looking at Monet’s paintings won’t solve any of this, but they can become a space a way, a haven for a few moments or for a while.

Monet’s own life was no idyll. For years he struggled to make ends meet as his painting earned him little money. His first wife died aged just 33, leaving Monet with two young sons. Later in life he endured further bereavements and his sight declined so that he struggled to paint. Maybe art helped him through. It clearly gave him purpose and direction, as he committed endless hours to painting and experimenting.

Maybe the most absorbing of Monet’s paintings to enjoy are his series paintings. In these he painted one motif time and time again, each at a different time of day or in different weather conditions. There was a haystack series, a series of views of Rouen Cathedral, and of course his famous water lilies. These can be very calming – “immerse” yourself in these pictures to experience the still water, the reflections, the subtle shades of colour. Water and lilies take up entire canvases, with no horizon. Some people call them dream-like and mesmeric. And I think another way Monet’s series paintings could help wellbeing is by inspiring us to look more closely at nature, at light and shade, at one view or plant and how it changes – don’t just glance and walk on by.

Is there a Monet painting which boosts your mood? How do you think looking at other people’s paintings compares to being creative yourself in helping wellbeing? It would be great to hear any responses in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002

Music Of The Night

Do music and nature seem worlds apart to you? As I think more about how art, music and nature can all draw together to enhance wellbeing, I’ve seen how music and nature in particular can be interwoven on different levels. Song titles might reference nature: think Nat King Cole’s Ramblin’ Rose or I Talk To The Trees from Paint Your Wagon. A piece of music might set out to present a particulat species or other aspect of nature, such as Saint Saens’ The Swan or Holst’s Planets. Sometimes musicians set about transcribing nature’s sounds into music, such as the 20th century French composer Messaien’s Catalogue d’oiseaux, or the present-day Australian musician Hollis Taylor, notating and composing around the song of the pied butcher bird. And then I heard about folk musician Sam Lee.

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Sam Lee mirrors this interplay in a different way. He duets with nightingales, arranging nighttime woodland performances in springtime, when nightingales sing. Guest musicians attend, and a small audience. During lockdown, performances (like so many others) moved online, once Sam created a digital studio in the woodland where he could stream the performances.

It’s now ten years since Sam Lee entered the music scene, when his debut album, Ground Of Its Own, was shortlisted for a Mercury Music Prize. Over this time he has recorded, performed, collected, performed and shared songs. His connection with nature has seen him mark Earth Day and now interact with nightingales.

For folk music is rooted not only in community, people and heritage but also in the land and the cycle of nature.It’s these roots Sam draws on as he sings with nightingales, perhaps the bird species most famed for their song. This is far more varied than the song of most other species. As migratory birds, they are seen and heard here in the UK only in spring and summer, and sing only at night, all of which has added to their allure.

Folk music’s oral tradition, shared and passed on from one generation to another, has become very important to Sam Lee, who absorbed this tradition during childhood – going to Forest School Camps with his family – and also through time spent seeking out Gypsy and Traveller communities.

In 2021 Sam Lee published a book, The Nightingale: Notes On A Songbird. This, and most of all his night singing, have become an opportunity to celebrate the nightingale and also to raise awareness of the decline of this now rare bird: as when he led a concert in London’s Berkeley Square, highlighting how the famous song now represents a lost world.

I feel that interlinking music and nature in such innovative ways has real power – also – in lifting mood, boosting wellbeing. It’s multi-sensory, particularly in outdoor performances like this, where the audience experiences sights, sounds, the feel of the (night) air…It combines subtly different soundscapes – the soundscape of the natural world, calming to most of us, and the music that it inspires and feeds. It’s interactive so it responds to nature. I wonder whether there’s a particular species you would like to duet with, or a natural sound you particularly respond to, like wind gusting through a tree or what music it might create. It would be great to hear any responses in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002

To learn more about Sam Lee, go to https://samleesong.co.uk

Any Time Or Place

You may know the work of photographer Oliver Hellowell and his striking, memorable images which enable the viewer to immerse themselves in nature wherever they are. When I recently came across his photography and his life journey, I wanted to discover more.

Photo by Marek on Pexels.com

Born in 1996, Oliver has Down’s Syndrome. He began photographing at the age of 11, and over the years his skills and style have evolved as he’s become a well-known and award-winning photographer. While he has used different models of camera, he mainly uses a Canon 100-400 and a Canon 17-40. With these he captures images of real clarity and impact. The natural world is his main subject, and he has a particular interest in portraying birds as varied as the mute swan, peacock and robin. I was struck by one image of a coal tit and its reflection in water, and by a montage of photographs of robins, showing such life. Water is another of Oliver’s main interests. He is drawn to portraying detail, in plants, light and water for example, and also line and form. Oliver particularly likes to photograph from ground level, creating a distinctive perspective.

Oliver has an annual exhibition of his photography, in different locations, has large followings on Facebook and YouTube, and gains regular media coverage. In 2019 a mountain view Oliver took in Tennessee won Best Photographic Feature at the USA/UK Media Awards in London. So he photographs further afield as well as close to home in England. And he photographs not only nature but also buildings such as Wells Cathedral, a sight very familiar to me as it is near to where I grew up.

Oliver Hellowell is a photographer of real talent and skill. Each image stands alone in its use of perspective, focus, colour or light. Once you learn that he has Down’s Syndrome, this only adds another layer to all that Oliver is doing. In 2015 he won another kind of award, the National Diversity Award for UK Positive Role Model for Disability. This highlighted how Oliver’s life story so far has inspired many other people who have a disability – and their families – to think widely, to experiment, maybe to dare.

The commitment and support of Oliver’s family shine through clearly as well. Oliver has endured heart and speech issues over the years and a diagnosis of ADHD. On his website his mother shares how photography enhances his life in so many ways.

It’s possible to buy Oliver’s images as prints or canvases from the gallery section of his website, while in the shop section you’ll find greetings cards, calendars and books like Oliver’s Birds and Oliver’s Britain.

Oliver’s photography makes me think again how art and creativity open so many doors, build opportunity and deepen how we experience the world. It also demonstrates what power images of nature hold for many of us. I like to stand and just watch a patch of grasses sometimes, or a tree, stilling my mind. Photography responds to this instinct, creating a store of images to allow us to experience nature at any time, in any place, in new and different ways.

You might like to look at Oliver’s website, https://www.oliverhellowell.com

Do you enjoy photography, or looking at other people’s photographs? It would be good to hear any responses in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002