Mindfulness of Nature

Cambridge has so many wonderful green spaces and I love to see the small day to day changes in nature as I walk through them en route to the city centre.  Whatever the weather, it feels good to be connected to nature and to be aware of the turning of the seasons.

Last week, I met with Claire Thompson, who is running a range of Mindfulness of Nature courses, aimed at connecting us with the natural world through our senses and emotions rather than our thoughts.  “This in itself is therapeutic.  It’s not about solving a particular problem,” Claire says.  “It’s about enhancing our experience of life itself and exploring different aspects of what it is to be alive.  We’ve forgotten that we’re part of nature and if we don’t spend time in nature, we’re disconnected from something innate.”

Claire T headshot
Image credit: Jeremy Peters

Born in England but raised and educated in France, Claire came to Emmanuel College here in Cambridge where she read Natural Sciences, graduating in Zoology, with her particular interests lying in animal behaviour alongside conservation of nature and plants.  During a gap year pre university, Claire worked in Andalucia, Spain, which not only improved her Spanish but gave her a love for the warmth of the culture with its passion for life.

Subsequent summer breaks were spent volunteering on a nature conservation project centred around Pucon in the Chilean lake district, an area of volcanoes, rivers, mountains and temperate rain forest.  This time in Chile had a profound effect on Claire and has shaped her career and well being.  It fuelled her desire to spend time in wild places and to work in nature conservation.  In her late teens, like many of us Claire had experienced anxiety and she found this time in the wilderness amidst the beauty and power of nature, together with a growing interest in mindfulness, liberating.  It calmed her anxiety and gave her a greater sense of purpose.  “Mindfulness gives you a choice as to where you put your attention,” Claire tells me.  “You are not your thoughts.”

After graduation, Claire volunteered in Mexico on a bird monitoring project in a nature reserve.  Returning to England, she worked in Suffolk for World Land Trust (an international nature conservation charity) before moving to Cambridge, where she works part time as a Project Manager with Bird Life International, co-ordinating a project supporting Mediterranean NGOs in their efforts to address illegal killing of migratory birds in the Mediterranean.

Claire T group in meadow
Image credit: Jeremy Peters

Claire has also authored two books.  In 2012, she was commissioned to write “Mindfulness in the Natural World” for Leaping Hare Press as part of their series of books on mindfulness and last year saw the publication of her second book, “The Art of Mindful Birdwatching.”

Claire T Byrons
Image credit: Jeremy Peters

Upcoming courses in and around Cambridge include “Introduction to Mindfulness of Nature” workshops at Byron’s Pool in Grantchester, “Introduction to Mindful Birdwatching” at Wicken Fen Nature Reserve and evening “Meditations in the Meadows” on Stourbridge Common.  In May, Claire will lead a three day retreat “Rewilding the Mind” in Snowdonia, North Wales.  Further afield, Claire is holding retreats and workshops in Austria (East Tyrol), the US (Rhinebeck), Argentina (Patagonia) and Chile (Chilean Lake District), the place where it all began for her.  Details of all these and more are on Claire’s website.  In a world where it’s easy, in the hustle and bustle of every day, to live as if we’re separate from nature, here’s a chance to reconnect.  I think we owe it to ourselves to take the time to stand and stare.

http://www.mindfulness-of-nature.com

e-Luminate Cambridge Festival photo blog

Back in January, I posted a piece on the e-Luminate Cambridge Festival and tonight it opened, with fabulous light installations illuminating some of the city’s most iconic buildings.

It’s a really cold night here in Cambridge but I wanted to get some photos, just taken on my phone, to give you a flavour of the event.

Firstly, Senate House with its installation “I See”, created in collaboration with The Ordered Universe Project.

Senate House B and W

Senate House spots

Senate egyptian

Senate blue and green swirls

Senate black and white broken

In Bene’t Street, another moving image projection, “Bright Lights – The Colours of the Brain”, has been created by artists working with Cambridge community groups in a series of workshops.

Benet St

Gonville & Caius College is looking glorious with its installation “The Colours of Caius College” created by artist Patrice Warrener using the Chromolithe technique that he developed thirty years ago.

Caius close up

At The Fitzwilliam Museum, projection artist Ross Ashton has created a colourful projection which shows some of the most iconic artefacts held in the Museum’s collection.

Fitz neon

Fitz women

Fitz Gold

You’ll find more installations outside King’s College Chapel, at Trinity Hall and at the Guildhall.  Full details of all these are on the event website.  It may be freezing out there but it’s really worth wrapping up and getting out to see the city in a whole new light.

http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/e-luminate

This event takes place at multiple locations in the city

 

 

 

 

Watersprite Film Festival

The Watersprite International Student Film Festival returns to the city from 23 -25 February, showcasing the wealth of emerging talent in student short film making from around the world and offering a springboard for the film makers of the future as they start their careers.

Watersprite 2018 General Image
Image credit: Rob Eager

This year, the organisers have received around three hundred and ninety submissions from ninety five countries.  Fifty nominees have now been chosen for a dozen award categories, including fiction, documentary, animation and original film music – you can find their details on the Watersprite website.  Overseas nominees will be flown into the UK to attend the Awards Ceremony at the Fitzwilliam Museum thanks to the continued support of Red Arrow Studios, the Festival’s official Film Maker and New Talent partner.

The prestigious Film Maker of the Future award will go to a film maker who tackles modern day issues in the world, creating a film that tries to make a difference or presents to us a story that we haven’t heard before.  Part of that prize is the opportunity to participate in a producers’ workshop in Cannes, enabling the winner to network within the film business.  In fact, the Festival gives all the entrants a chance to collaborate with other film makers and to forge new creative partnerships.

Elisa
2017 Film of the Year Winners, Elisa  Image credit: Chris Williamson

Aside from the screenings, there’s a packed schedule of talks and workshops led by leading professionals in the film and TV industry.  Films will be showing at various venues across the city but most nominee screenings will be held at King’s College while talks and events will happen at St John’s College Old Divinity School where you’ll also find the Festival hub.

The Festival started life in 2010 as Cam’era and Film of the Year was awarded to Will McGregor’s “Who’s Afraid of the Water Sprite?”.  Will has gone on to make a very successful career as a screenwriter and director, working in film, TV and commercials.  With producer Hilary Bevan-Jones, the Festival’s Patron, Will has developed his short film into a feature film, “The Dark Outside”, which is currently in production.  And in honour of that first winning film, the Festival was renamed “Watersprite” in 2011.

Watersprite 2017 Student Committee
2017 Watersprite Student Committee  Image credit: L Odufwa-Bolger

The Festival is open to everybody.  It is entirely free for film makers to enter plus all the events and screenings are free thanks to sponsors such as Decca Publishing and Fox Networks Group.  Local companies also get involved.  Jocks and Peers, a beer brand recently launched in the city by three Cambridge alumni, is sponsoring drinks at one of the event’s ceremonies.  Tickets can be booked through Eventbrite or you can just turn up at an event or screening and if there’s room, you’ll get in.

www.watersprite.org.uk

http://www.eventbrite.co.uk

This event takes place at multiple venues around the city

Twilight at the Museums

Have you seen that movie “Night at the Museum”?  And wondered how it feels to wander round a museum after hours?  Well, wonder no more because now’s your chance to find out as Cambridge University Museums’ “Twilight at the Museums” event invites you to explore fourteen local museums and collections after dark, from 4.30 – 7.30pm on Tuesday 13 February.

twilightwebbanner
Image credit: Alice the Camera/ University of Cambridge Museums

There’s a wealth of events to enjoy.  At the Polar Museum, you can meet some of the characters that have made polar history.  Or why not become a geological pioneer at the University Library, discovering rocks, fossils and extraordinary maps at the “Landscapes Below” exhibition.  Join the Eclipse Expedition at the Whipple Museum and follow in the footsteps of historic explorers on a scientific trail as you gather vital equipment and travel across distant lands to observe a rare solar eclipse.

twilight_17_preview
Image credit: Martin Bond
twilight_67_preview
Image credit:  Martin Bond

At the Fitzwilliam Museum, a stunning building that is home to a world-class collection of works of art and antiquities, there’ll be a Kaleidoscope of Colour.  See if you can touch, hear or taste colour and find out if it can change the way you see things.  Enjoy special demonstrations, musical performances, interactive play and dazzling projections as you experience the collection through a range of colour.  Head to Kettle’s Yard to pick up your Twilight Trail and discover the newly opened gallery spaces.  Visit the glasshouses at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden to hunt for orchids and to find out more about these amazing plants.  Full details of these and the many events at other venues are on the Cambridge University Museums’ website – details at the end of this post.

Richard White, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, tells me that the museums will all be colourful this year, with special lighting so that you can explore their collections in a different way.  It’s also a great opportunity to discover a museum that maybe you’ve been meaning to visit for ages as well as to learn some amazing facts.

Alice-the-Camera-Cambridge-Museums-Twilight-149_preview
Image credit:  Alice the Camera

“Twilight at the Museums” is a free family event and children of all ages are welcome.  You won’t go hungry either as there’ll be pop up food stands at the Downing Site (outside the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) and the cafes at the Botanic Garden, the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettles Yard will be open too.  Most of the venues are just a short walk apart so wrap up warm and bring a torch to help you explore those darker corners ….. who knows what you’ll find amongst the shadows??!!

http://www.museums.cam.ac.uk/twilight

This event is being held at multiple locations around the city

What’s On in February

Well, we’ve almost got through a very grey and murky January so here’s the what’s on listing for February.  It’s an eclectic mix of events that come to my attention so if you know about an event that could be included, please get in touch via my Contact page.  I’ll update this listing through the month, so it’s worth checking back every so often.

Railings at Great St Mary's
The railings at Great St Mary’s Church

2nd    5.30pm  Migration 2018: Art and Migration.  Lady Margaret Hall, Sidgwick Avenue http://www.darwin.cam.ac.uk/lectures

3rd    10am – 12pm Ages 11 – 15, 1pm – 2.30pm Ages 7 – 10 Come and Play at Trinity.  Music making for young instrumentalists.  Trinity College.  Email concerts@tcms.org.uk

3rd    1pm  St Clement’s Players.  Mozart, Haydn, Sammartini.  St Clement’s Church, Bridge Street

3rd    7.30pm  Fairytales for Grown Ups: Grim Grimms.  The Crick Crack Club with Ben Haggarty.  Cambridge Junction  http://www.junction.co.uk

3rd    7.30pm  East Anglia Chamber Orchestra.  Mendelssohn and Vaughan Williams.  West Road Concert Hall  http://www.adcticketing.com

3rd    7.30pm  Wine Gums Comedy Night.  Cambridge University Centre Wine Bar, CB2 http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk

3rd    9.30pm  Messiaen.  King’s College Music Society.  King’s College Hall.  Tickets on the door

5th    7.45pm  Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  Screening of the 1920 movie with live organ improvisation by David Briggs.  The Leys School Chapel  http://www.theleys.net/boxoffice

8th    8pm  Ben Crosland Quintet plays the Ray Davies Songbook.  Hidden Rooms, Jesus Lane  http://www.cambridgejazz.org

9th    5.30pm  Migration 2018: Refugee Migration.  Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue.  http://www.darwin.cam.ac.uk/lectures

9/10th    AHBAB Festival.  Cambridge Junction  http://www.junction.co.uk

9/14th    e-Luminate Festival at venues around the city  http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/e-luminate and see my January blog post too

9th    10pm  Valerie Welbanks Solo Cello.  Saariaho, Crumb and Bach.  King’s College Chapel  http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/concerts

10th    Kettles Yard re-opens.  Castle Street, CB3.  http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk

11th    4pm  Be My Love Charity Gala for Arthur Rank Hospice and Multiple System Atrophy Trust.  Michaelhouse, Trinity Street.  For tickets email adriancb23@gmail.com

11th   8.30pm  The Chilingirian Quartet.  Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.  Selwyn College Hall  http://www.selwynalumni.com

13th    4.30pm  Twilight at the Museums at venues around the city http://www.museums.cam.ac.uk/twilight and see my blog post too

14th    7pm  Valentine’s Day Blind Wine Tasting.   l’Alliance Francaise Cambridge, Hills Road   info.alliance.cam@gmail.com

14th    7.30pm  The Endellion String Quartet.  Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.  West Road Concert Hall  http://www.cambridgelivetickets.co.uk

15th    7.30pm  Romsey Mill Charity Quiz Night.  C3 Centre, CB1  http://www.eventbrite.co.uk

16th    5.30pm  Migration 2018:  Disease Migration.  Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue  http://www.darwin.cam.ac.uk/lectures

16th    7.30pm  Mortal Voices, The Academy of Ancient Music.  Pergolesi, Corelli and Handel.  West Road Concert Hall  http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/tickets.  Please note there is a free pre-concert talk at 6.30pm.

18th   2pm  Introduction to Tennyson.  Stapleford Granary, CB22  http://www.literaturecambridge.co.uk

20/24th    7.45pm  Spring Awakening.  Brickhouse Theatre Company.  Robinson College, CB3  http://www.brickhouse.tessera.info

22/24th    7.45pm and Sat.1.30pm  L’Elisir D’Amore, Donizetti.  Cambridge University Opera Society.  West Road Concert Hall  http://www.adcticketing.com/amore

23rd    5.30pm Migration 2018: The Partition of India and Migration.  Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue  http://www.darwin.cam.ac.uk/lectures

23/25th    Watersprite Film Festival at venues across the city  http://www.watersprite.org.uk and see my blog post too

24th    7.30pm  The Academy of Great St Mary’s.  Brahms, Weber, Schumann.  Great St Mary’s Church  http://www.adcticketing.com

Primroses
To remind us that Spring is on the way!!

 

Cambridge Shakespeare Read-through Group

Kate O’Neill has always loved Shakespeare.  In fact, she comes from a long line of Shakespeare lovers ….. her maternal great grandfather was a drama teacher and producer who wrote his own plays and ran residential Shakespeare courses in the summer holidays.  Kate’s childhood visits to The Globe Theatre in London with her grandmother left her spellbound by the language, theatricality, history and costumes that she found there.

Kate's face shotFast forward a few years and the adult Kate, now living in Hertfordshire, enjoyed taking part in historical re-enactments at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk, an experience which fuelled her interest in taking on a character.  “You see a different side to people when they’re dressed up and in character,” Kate tells me.  Together with a group of friends, she went on to hold a very successful read-through of “The Tempest”.

Having recently moved to Cambridge, Kate now plans to replicate that here as a way to get like-minded people together in a collaborative spirit.  This will be a very informal group, meeting maybe three or four times a year and it’s for everybody, whether you’re a total Shakespeare nut, a keen drama person or if you don’t know much about any of that but would like to find out more.

Kate Shakespeare poster
Image credit: Oscar Pinchen

The first meeting is on Saturday 3 February at the Salisbury Arms.  Kate’s had a good response already and she’s looking forward to finding out which of Shakespeare’s plays people like and to arranging a date and venue for a read-through.  Think “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Kate’s pretty courtyard garden or, should anyone in the group have a property with a balcony, “Romeo and Juliet”.  So many possibilities ….. and as The Bard himself wrote, “All the world’s a stage”.

Facebook:  Cambridge Shakespeare Read-through Group

Salisbury Arms, 76 Tenison Road, Cambridge CB1 2DW

Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” as the song goes.  Well, I’m not so sure about that but I do know that I can never walk past this gorgeous shop in Green Street without pausing to admire the jewellery in the window.  And then, quite by chance, I met Harriet at a party over Christmas and she told me her story.

HJ shopfront 2
Image credit: Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

Harriet learned to make jewellery with her father, a doctor who was also a talented goldsmith.  With his help, she designed and made her first ring aged four and was hooked from that moment on.  In an early sign of her entrepreneurial streak, at the age of eight she and her sister were making earrings from gold wire which they sold initially to friends and later at an artist friend’s stall in Covent Garden.  Harriet is dyslexic, although this wasn’t identified until adulthood.  Drawn to art, maths and science, she took a degree in Industrial Design and went on to work in the film business, but she never stopped making jewellery in her spare time, working in a shed at the bottom of the garden.  When her waiting list got to thirty three people, all of whom had found her by word of mouth, Harriet made the decision to switch career into bespoke jewellery.

harriet-kelsall-portrait
Image credit: Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

Harriet had two aims when she set up her business 20 years ago and they remain her aims today.  Firstly, she wants to make bespoke jewellery reachable, offering high quality at affordable prices.  The team that you meet in her shops are all designers and delight in telling a customer’s individual story through each commission.  There’s also a ready to wear collection which features one off rings and very small runs of pendants, necklaces, earrings and other dress jewellery.

Secondly, for ethical reasons, Harriet prefers to work with fairtrade gold and has been a trailblazer in this field.  Having located a gold mine in Colombia which operates on fairtrade principles, she met another jewellery activist and then the Fairtrade Foundation who asked her to advise them on how their process could work for jewellers in the UK.  This movement works against child labour, for safety in the mining process and supports women’s rights, education and environmental issues.  In buying fairtrade gold, you are supporting artisanal miners who receive a fair price for gold and extra money for their communities, which they are empowered to spend as they wish.

HK pendant
Image credit: Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

In 2011, Harriet and the Association launched fairtrade gold, now used by around three hundred UK jewellers as well as internationally.  The majority of the jewellery in her shops is made of fairtrade gold.  She buys diamonds direct from Botswana and Namibia and thoroughly checks the provenance of these and coloured gemstones to ensure that she meets the highest ethical standards possible.

HK earrings
Image credit: Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

2018 is shaping up to be another busy year for Harriet.  As well as her Hertfordshire HQ, a beautiful converted barn with glass walled workshop, showroom, coffee shop and garden, and the Cambridge shop/design studio, Harriet is launching another shop with a design studio in Primrose Hill, north west London later this month.  It’s an area she knows well as she and her husband, Tim, used to live there and with the neighbourhood’s mix of independent specialist businesses, it feels like a natural fit.  Then there’s the design and production of the new ready to wear collection, pieces from which you can see in the photos through this post.

HK new collection diamond ring
Image credit: Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

And Harriet has written a book about starting a creative business.  It’ll be published in September and is inspired by her voluntary mentoring of creative businesses, during which she notices common threads with successful entrepreneurs as they combine creativity and innovation to build a viable business.  Harriet has received many business and jewellery industry awards in recognition of her innovation and success and I, for one, can’t wait to see what she does next.

http://www.hkjewellery.co.uk

6-7 Green Street, Cambridge CB2 3JU