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Nor­folk Wildlife Trust evan­ge­list Nick Ach­e­son on a fes­ti­val in­spired by the nat­u­ral world

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE -

A se­lec­tion of art ex­hi­bi­tions in the county

Among the defin­ing qual­i­ties of hu­man­ity is our abil­ity – our in­her­ent need – to praise in words, im­ages and mu­sic the nat­u­ral world which gives us home. Many species copy sounds they hear around them: think of marsh war­blers in east Euro­pean wet­lands, Lawrence’s thrushes in Ama­zo­nia and su­perb lyre­birds in the rain­forests of south­east Aus­tralia, all of which in­cor­po­rate dozens of other birds’ calls or am­bi­ent noises into their songs.

Oth­ers, like the bower­birds of New Guinea and Aus­tralia, con­struct strik­ing tableaux of flow­ers, leaves and shells in which to dance. But these are strate­gies to woo a mate, us­ing and re­flect­ing el­e­ments of the nat­u­ral world for a pur­pose; they are not hymns in praise of na­ture, or even ex­pres­sions of fas­ci­na­tion with it.

Through his­tory we hu­mans have made things, said things, writ­ten things and sung things which are not func­tional. They have not filled our bel­lies with food; they have not kept us safe from harm; they have not – per se – made it more likely we would breed and hand our genes to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

What they have done is lay bare our sense of won­der at the nat­u­ral world; they have fur­thered un­der­stand­ing of our place in it; and they have ex­pressed kin­ship with the other be­ings which shape and in­habit it. From the lion-man of Hohlen­stein-Stadel and the cave paint­ings of Las­caux, through the fa­bles at­trib­uted to Ae­sop and adapted by La Fon­taine, to the ele­giac mu­sic of Vaughan Wil­liams and on to the present day, count­less mil­lions of us – in ev­ery cul­ture and in ev­ery age – have looked on na­ture and known a need to ex­press the feel­ings she stirs in us.

At Nor­folk Wildlife Trust, en­gag­ing peo­ple with na­ture is among our core com­mit­ments. We teach thou­sands of chil­dren about wildlife on our re­serves each year, be­cause we un­der­stand that peo­ple need na­ture in their lives and na­ture needs peo­ple who love her.

As the Sene­galese forester Baba Dioum fa­mously put it; “In the end we will con­serve only what we love, we will love only what we un­der­stand and we will un­der­stand only what we are taught.” Yet teach­ing

and learn­ing – in life and at Nor­folk Wildlife Trust – are far from sim­ply a mat­ter of young pupils soak­ing up knowl­edge from adults. They are a life­long ad­ven­ture, with each of us learn­ing from wildlife in dif­fer­ent ways and at dif­fer­ent times. It is this un­der­stand­ing which sits at the heart of Cley Call­ing.

Cley Call­ing is a fes­ti­val of writ­ing, art, pho­tog­ra­phy, mu­sic and per­for­mance – all in­spired by the nat­u­ral world – which takes place ev­ery year at NWT Cley and Salt­house Marshes. Each event in the fes­ti­val re­flects na­ture in a dif­fer­ent way, through the eyes, the voice, the fin­ger­tips or the mind of a dif­fer­ent artist.

For some lovers of the wild – and I grew up among them – en­gag­ing with na­ture in­volves de­tailed study, de­scrip­tion and nam­ing. This re­la­tion­ship with wildlife runs deep through the or­nitho­log­i­cal pedi­gree of Cley and Salt­house Marshes and it is right that it should run through Cley Call­ing too. With its mix of graz­ing marsh, salt­marsh and reedbed, with patches of wood­land, heath and scrub nearby, Cley is not only a cel­e­brated site for birds. Its var­ied habi­tats are also home to many scarce or lit­tle-known species of moth; so ex­perts will be on hand dur­ing the fes­ti­val to open their live traps and share a haul of moths whose beauty is matched only by the strange, po­etic names they were given by our Vic­to­rian nat­u­ral­ist fore­bears.

Even less well known than moths are soli­tary bees, many of which are tiny and in­habit van­ish­ing rem­nants of habi­tat. If only – you say – north Nor­folk had its own ex­pert on soli­tary bees to share his years of study and hy­menopteran eru­di­tion and to fly the flag for these won­der­ful, ne­glected in­sects. As luck would have it we do! Nick Owens, au­thor of Bees of Nor­folk and a Cley lo­cal, will lead a Cley Call­ing work­shop on bee iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, aimed at com­plete be­gin­ners and es­tab­lished bee-lovers alike.

Ter­res­trial and vis­ual an­i­mals that we are, we un­der­stand fish still less than we do bees and moths. But Cley and Salt­house Marshes lie be­tween land and sea, where the bright wa­ter of the Glaven flows out past Blak­eney Point to meet the in­hab­i­tants of Nor­folk’s unique chalk reef. This is em­phat­i­cally a place of fish too. Bring­ing her new book

Eye of the Shoal, He­len Scales (a fit­ting sur­name in­deed) comes to

Cley Call­ing to de­stroy the myth that fish are brute, un­think­ing crea­tures and to en­chant us with the wa­tery se­crets of their lives.

For many of us, nam­ing and study­ing the denizens of the nat­u­ral world are sec­ondary to a raw sense of won­der. North Nor­folk artist Amelia Mills is en­thralled by the shift­ing moods and shapes of the sea. For

Cley Call­ing she will de­liver a demon­stra­tion of her unique style of cap­tur­ing North Sea waves in paint.

There far more than I can men­tion here to this cel­e­bra­tion of all things wild. There is mu­sic; there is food; there is art; there is the crunch of shin­gle un­der feet; there is the clumsy flap of freshly fledged marsh har­rier chicks; there is the sum­mer sun. There is, above all, hu­man­ity trans­fixed by na­ture, as we have al­ways been and as al­ways we must be.

He­len Scales and fish by Ria Mishaal

Amelia Mills in the stu­dio

Book­ing now open for Cley Call­ing events. Visit cl­ey­call­ing. com or call 01263 740008 Cley Marshes vis­i­tor and Aspinall cen­tres

Pond dip­ping

Six-spot Bur­net moth emerg­ing at Cley Marshes

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