2014 / Saturday

Inspiring New Ways to Look at Nature

Ni Yan

Three authors from very different backgrounds, each with an eye to discovering the beauty of nature, have been awakened to the need for greater conservation efforts. London-based jewellery designer Alex Monroe, adventurer Jono Lineen, and novelist and nature writer Inga Simpson brought a message of shared concern to the Sydney Dance festival venue on Thursday.

Alex Monroe

Alex Monroe

Acclaimed jeweller Monroe – who is known for his signature delicate feathers, flowers, birds and particularly bees – has recently published his first book, Two Turtle Doves: A memoir of making things.

He describes the process of inspiration for design as being “out in nature drawing and observing”. Sitting on a rock by a pool of water, he suddenly sees a bee “bumbling around looking for little openings” to nest. While this was going on, “I was sketching and that inspired a collection of jewellery.”

Once swarming in large numbers, the Honey Bee “is now an endangered species”, he says. To raise awareness, he has created a Honeybee and Flower Necklace, and donates Pounds30 to the British Beekeepers Association for every piece sold.

Jono Lineen

Jono Lineen

Adventurer Jono Lineen also contributes to nature conservation of nature. A one-time professional forester helped plant 250 million trees a year in Canada, his new book, Into the Heart of the Himalayas, traces his four-month, 2700 kilometre solo trek in 1995 across the highest mountains on earth.

Although he had set himself the journey as a physical test, over many years he came to realise it was in large part a search for answers after the tragic drowning of his younger brother. Upon completion, he wrote an account based on his diaries, but it has taken 15 years to finish the book to his satisfaction.
Mr Lineen, an assistant curator with the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, said he noticed that something was missing, something “conveying those diamond moments”. The experience had been a means of coming to terms with his loss.

“It was related to feelings, it was related to the stillness in the air because I was 4,000 metres up in the Himalayas and there wasn’t a breath of wind. It was related to that cool crispness that you get at alpine areas. It was related to the beautiful light you get just in that period before sunset. And I remember the last time I had that confluence of feelings was when I had seen Gareth’s dead body in the hospital.”

Inga Simpson

Inga Simpson

Author Inga Simpson, whose novel Mr Wigg is shortlisted for the 2014 Indie Awards (debut fiction) lives among trees in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland where she is “like a bird.” The 2012 winner of the Eric Rolls Nature Writing Prize is currently working on a nature writing project, Notes from Olvar Wood, and researching Australian nature writing for a PhD in English Literature.

For Ms Simpson, a nature writer “is traditionally a person immersed in nature in some way for a period of time, and the longer that time is, the deeper the connection with the place they are writing about.”

To protect the natural world for the future, she says, “We need to remind ourselves that we are part of nature and that our actions impact on our own habitat in ways that are not just changing the planet for other species and causing them to die out, but they will eventually impact on our habitat in ways that make it less habitable.”