The Rye Harbour Nature Reserve has announced a new writer in residence, Louise Kenward.
A former NHS psychologist who turned to art after serious illness, Louise has returned to the coastal area of her youth. Emma Chaplin from the Sussex Wildlife Trust, went along to meet her.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’ve come to writing through travel and illness. I spent nearly 20 years working as a psychologist and latterly trained as an artist. Shortly after, I became seriously ill with what was then diagnosed as post-viral fatigue.
Recovering, I spent a year travelling overland, ‘accompanied’ by the late Victorian traveller and collector Annie Brassey. This helped me reconnect to the natural world. Travelling mostly by train enabled me to see how landscapes move from mountain to deserts, coastlines to forest, and I learnt to move at a much slower rate.
Returning to the UK about seven years ago, I started writing courses. I worked closely with Bexhill Museum spending time as artist in residence, and through this, my connection to Annie Brassey also strengthened. Much of her collection is now held at Bexhill Museum. I’m currently developing this work as my first full-length book weaving history, landscape and solo travelling.
And your relationship with Rye Harbour Nature Reserve?
I have a long history with Rye and Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. My uncle was involved in building the harbour wall in the 1980s, and Camber Sands was my first experience of the beach and coast.
Returning now, and having the chance to spend much longer periods of time here, is a really exciting prospect.
You’re the new writer in residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. What does that mean?
As well as having time for my own writing, we will start a series of workshops, connecting with new and existing visitors to the reserve. We will also set up projects with the local community, as well as the wider community of writers, readers and nature lovers.
What activities will be taking place?
There is a regular group that will meet monthly. Other workshops and sessions are currently in the planning stages and we are hoping to offer online as well as in-person sessions to a number of different groups currently working with Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.
What do you hope people will get out of coming?
I am hoping to offer new perspectives and ways of writing about and connecting with the reserve.
Through a mixture of writing exercises, observation, discussion and looking at work by other writers (particularly those with a local connection and writers with disabilities), I will run monthly workshops that will operate as stand-alone sessions as well as building session-by-session to offer a cohesive course.
With the current monthly group there is a walk and tea and cake included as part of the writing session, so I’m hoping to offer something for everyone.
I’m also planning more accessible workshops for those with mobility issues, who live with chronic illness, or are unable to attend in person. This is currently still in the planning stage.
Who are you hoping will attend?
All are invited, no experience necessary.
What should people bring?
Just themselves, some paper and a pen or keyboard. Whatever you choose to do your writing.
To find out more please visit: www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk
Image Credits: Emma Chaplin .