Some years ago I wrote a story called Hold The Love. All over the globe, people plunged into fear as a virus from a computer game infected the populace. Our heroine, a young child named Hannah, learned through an Angel that the only way to triumph was to “hold the love and remember the beauty”. It was the fear, not the virus that was threatening the planet and it fell to Hannah to demonstrate how love dissolves fear and that when love and hope feel extinguished in our hearts, we can re-kindle it by focusing on something of great beauty - a tree, a child’s face, a single flower, the piercingly poignant song of a blackbird at 4 am, the blossoms bursting with the promise that after Winter comes Spring. Always.
This time I am writing about my new photography book, ‘Wild Neighbours: Portraits of London’s Magnificent Creatures which comes out on March 28th, 2020 in the midst of Coronavirus and densest global fear most of us have experienced in our lifetime. I was wondering how to speak of the joy of a new book coming out in a way that respected and embraced the reality of this moment. Then it came; the part of me that I drew on to write the character of Hannah in my story, Hold The Love, was the same part of me that has walked around London for the past two years observing and taking photographic portraits of all the wild creatures I could find. The pages of Wild Neighbours are chock full of gentleness and quiet beauty as one by one, the creatures featured reveal to us their essence. Almost no-one comes away from looking through Wild Neighbours without commenting that they feel calmed, uplifted; such is the healing power of nature.
My initial motivation for creating Wild Neighbours was and still is to address the question that had been gnawing away at me for some time; that in our largely urban-based lives, if we’re too busy and stressed to notice the magic and beauty of the natural world, then why would we value it enough to fight for it? 2020 is without doubt a pivotal year in global decision-making about climate change and biodiversity loss. Urban nature is relatable to and this book is a call to us all to remember that we as individuals have the power to make a huge difference.
From the introduction of Wild Neighbours:
“The power of intention together with billions of small actions will at first slow the decline in ecosystem health, then arrest it, then turn the tide back to recovery and renewal. Before long the matrix of loss will have changed. Given the chance, nature’s regenerative powers are immense.
This is all about us; us being good neighbours for our wild friends and the best stewards for the wider environment that we can be. Science brings us facts, governments can pass laws but the engine of change lies with each one of us. We can reconnect with nature and person by person, hedgehog by hedgehog, bee by bee, bring balance back to our cities, countryside, seas and planet. So let’s begin where it’s easy. Let’s begin at home.”
And here we all are, at home, needing nature more than ever as indeed nature needs us.
Hold the love and remember the beauty…
Images taken from Wild Neighbours: Portraits of London’s Magnificent Creatures by Sarah Cheesbrough (Unicorn) £25
© Sarah Cheesbrough 2020 www.sarahcheesbrough.com