Natural history journaling
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Keeley Street
Course Code: HS295
Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)
What is the course about?
Natural history journaling is the practice of recording observations and thoughts about nature, through any means. The process of close observation allows the journalist to become attuned to details of the subject that would otherwise go unnoticed. This detailed examination prompts discovery and learning, and was indeed how Darwin came to some of his enlightened conclusions. Through history, journals have contributed important information about changing patterns in nature over time. So in one sense, nature journaling is a science. In another sense it is an art. Nature journaling allows you to express your interest in the natural world in whichever form appeals to you; it could be a written record, letters to a friend, illustrations in any media, photographs or film. Whichever form you choose, documenting nature requires you to really notice the details of the life around you. For example, carefully examining a hazel twig in spring will reveal tiny bright pink flowers that resemble sea anemones. Watch a peacock butterfly for a while and you will observe how it virtually disappears when its bright wings fold together. Spend time watching a mixture of wetland birds feeding to understand the subtly different techniques they use. Students of nature journaling find the practice both meditative and a wonderful aid to the study of the nature world.
What will we cover?
• Nature journaling through history, including Charles Darwin, Gilbert White (The Natural History of Selborne), Edith Holden (The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady) and Peter Scott.
• Examples of current nature journaling from around the world.
• Discussion of techniques and ideas.
• Practice of journaling using different techniques in a relaxed setting with no right or wrong outcomes.
• Guided walks through 3 London greenspaces with an experienced tutor who will help you to spot nature, understanding what you observe and look that little bit more closely.
• Opportunities for discussions and questions about both London wildlife and nature journaling.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Describe some historic nature journalists and their significance.
• Access current nature journals for enjoyment and inspiration.
• Enjoy your local green spaces with renewed interest and focus.
• Build on your understanding of nature through close observations.
• Feel a renewed sense of fascination and pleasure in the natural world.
• Have the confidence to continue nature journaling in your own time, in a manner which suits you.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course and is open to all. No prior knowledge of the subject is required. There is no need to be able to draw or to write in a certain way.
You will need a good grasp of English to keep up with the course and to participate fully in discussions. You need to be mobile enough to complete a leisurely 2 hour walk, sometimes along rough paths.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The first session will be an introduction at City Lit and will include a tutor presentation, viewing existing nature journals, group discussion and trying out different techniques. The following 3 sessions will take place at outdoor locations in London and will include observation of nature, discussions about ecology and opportunities to draw, describe, photograph or film things of interest.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Bring a notebook or sketchbook into which you will create your journal entries. If you wish to use a camera or other recording device you will need to bring this along. Some media such as drawing pencils, a range of pens and charcoal will be provided, but if there is a specific media you would like to try out, please bring this with you.
You will need to cover the cost of your transport to the meeting places for the walks. All walks will be accessible by public transport and be no further out of central London than zone 3. Wear comfortable clothing for walking, including sturdy footwear. Consider the weather on the day and bring water, a hat and sun lotion, or waterproofs as required.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Check the City Lit website for other Nature courses, including Brenna Boyle's Wlaking London's Rivers in June (HS297) or Letta Jones's Trees in Summer (HS264).
Brenna Boyle (B.Sc Hons Dunelm, M.Sc DIC) is a zoologist, wildlife guide and environmental teacher. She runs Wild Capital and also works for two urban environmental education charities. She is often to be found wading in either the River Thames or Deptford Creek. Her favourite species is the Long-tailed Tit.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.