Voiced project

Hi there... I'm delighted to be one of five writers/songwriters to be given a writing residency at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve this August and September.

The work is part of the phytology project, which brings artists and botanists together to explore the medicinal properties of plants common to derelict urban environments.
Thirty-two species of wild plants – usually regarded as weeds – have been sown on a site that was once meadow and pasture, and occupied by a medieval nursery and market gardens. Ranging from Black Mustard, Common Nettle and Feverwort, to Wild Garlic, Marsh Mallow and Sweet Woodruff, the plants have been selected for their continued use in phytotherapy and traditional medicine. Visitors to the Reserve are encouraged to learn how to safely identify, harvest and use the plants for medicinal and nutritional purposes.
Phytology aims to challenge ideas of use, value, resilience and the function of wildness within our urban ecosystem. If you read this blog, you probably know I love to poke around physically and mentally in the spaces and places where human and non-human intersect and mingle. I'm also fascinated by the wild in us and our increasingly tenuous connections with the earth and all its richness, including an ancient knowledge of nature. Sometimes London feels totally alien if there is not a single living thing in sight. But if you look hard, there always is something growing or thriving or surviving - a pigeon, a plant, even moss on walls. 
There is a real sense of history at the site - in 1839 the Bishop of London called it one of 'the most desolate parishes' and built a church, St Judes (named after the patron saint of lost causes) which could seat a congregation of 1,000. Little remains of it after it was bombed in the Second World War, but there are lumps of bricks and masonry littering the site, like glacial erratics..

Below are some pictures of this magical place from Saturday, when I got to walk around and soak it up and jot down a few notes. I'm not sure what I will be writing yet, but I am starting to read up on and think about plants and their properties and their rich folklore and language. I'm also interested in the idea of lost causes and usage, and the nature of weeds, and hypocrisy.
In Anglo Saxon times, weod (weed) was a name given to any small plant. I sometimes tell my children a weed is just our conception of a plant in the 'wrong' place. 

Rubble from St Jude's church

Writers' shed

Family fox hole


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