For the last couple of years, a month or so before Christmas, I've gone along to a gathering of writers, artists, poets, musicians, historians, scientists and film-makers, all of whom have one thing in common – they draw some or all of their inspiration from the natural world.
The first event was at Oxford University, and last year's at the BTO's Thetford headquarters - both were by invitation only.
This year's symposium, however, under the banner of Voices for Nature, is open to all, and takes place at Stamford Arts Centre on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th November. It's organised by New Networks for Nature, a recently-founded alliance whose goals are to challenge the low political priority placed upon wildlife and landscape in this country and to celebrate the central roles played by nature in our cultural life.
Voices for Nature will run over two days, and the first features talks from the likes of poet and novelist Ruth Padel, Pete Cairns (founder of the 2020 Vision photographic project), and the author Richard Hines, who trained the kestrels used in Kes, Ken Loach's classic film. There'll also be presentations by sound recordist Geoff Sample and Professor Tim Birkhead the author, academic and co-founder of New Networks for Nature.
On the second day, Voices for Nature will shift just down the road to Helpston Church, in the home village of John Clare, for another day's events in association with the John Clare Society. Speakers will include poet David Morley and the celebrated artist Carry Akroyd, much of whose recent work has been inspired by her exploration of 'Clare Country'.
I'll certainly be going to the Friday's events, and hope to be there on the Saturday too, but that will depend on the travel arrangements for a trip I'm going on the same day.
If you wish to attend one or both days the charge is £30 inclusive. Bookings will be handled by the Stamford Arts Centre, on tel: 01780 763 203, or by clicking here.
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