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Tijana Lukovic

Tijana Lukovic is a Belgium based illustrator whose artworks contain traces of folklore, mythology and a love for nature. Her images are rooted in the changing seasons and her inner world as she explores the forest of her childhood memories.

Describe the nature around you at this moment?

We have a river and a small park with two big old trees in front of our balcony – a maple tree and an ash tree. It’s a beautiful view that brings peace, calm and evidence of the seasonal changes. The river and trees are also home to many birds, so it’s perfect for birdwatching.

How would you describe your nature connection?

My connection to nature is interwoven with my love of folklore and mythology - everything is related, connected and works as a whole. As a child I was told many stories by my grandmother and they stayed within me, influencing my view of nature and the magic I feel in its presence. I experience all the elements as if they have a consciousness of their own; as if I am in a constant conversation with the wind that plays with my hair, takes my worries away and listens to my innermost reflections. I always try to find a connection between my inner landscape and the nature around me.

Where do you feel most at ease?

I love sitting on a river bank and watching the water. It calms me.

Nature and folklore are deeply intertwined in your work. How can storytelling help us rewild ourselves?

In a folktale, everything can have a consciousness of its own - even a mountain, a stone or a gentle flower. We get to meet ‘the other side’, beyond the veil of our everyday busy lives, where we have lost our connection to everything non-human. We are encouraged to see magic in nature and the elements around us. We get to meet and know more about the nature spirits and other magical beings living uninhibited lives in forests, rivers and seas and we wish to be more like them, experiencing nature and life as they do, at one with our Mother.

Is there anything you’re curious about right now?

I’m reading a lot about Slavic mythology at the moment and I am particularly drawn to beings living in the forest, the protectors of it, like Baba Yaga. I am very interested in her ambivalent nature – a fearless wild woman both helpful and malevolent. She holds great power and wisdom and connects me with my Slavic roots, teaching me how to be myself in relation to the world.

What’s your top tip?

If you like living in your own world, stay there.

What kind of ancestor do you want to be?

One who conveys the message of our inner world being of equal importance to our outer worlds.

What inspires you every day?

It might sound funny, but thinking of the mysteries of the universe and our relation to it.

What are you reading, watching or listening to?

At the moment I am reading The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance by Elizabeth Wayland Barber and listening to the podcast Mythoslavic hosted by Karmen.

What question would you like to ask a future guest of #TheNatureKind?

What do you do in order to rewild yourself?

Could you suggest someone else or other organisations you admire that we could approach for #TheNatureKind series?

My friend and talented poet Victoria Pettella. Her Instagram is @victoriapettella.

You can find out more about Tijana and her work on her website and Instagram.

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Samuel Iliffe

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Will Hearle

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Ellen Miles

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Masha Karpushina

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Susanna Grant

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Jini Reddy

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Alice Vincent

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Zayaan Khan

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Marie Smith

Marie Smith is a visual artist and writer who was born, lives and works in London. Her practice incorporates text and photography as a form of visual language and her experience with anxiety and depression has informed how she addresses identity, nature, environmentalism, mental health and wellbeing. Having graduated with an MA in History in Art with Photography from Birkbeck, Marie is an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London and Portsmouth University.

City Girl in Nature

Kwesia is a young changemaker and the creator of the video series City Girl in Nature - on a mission to engage young people from disadvantaged communities living in inner cities to connect with nature. Growing up in Deptford, South East London, an area where people have often been neglected, excluded, and marginalised, Kwesia experienced family trauma and homelessness when she was 17, while struggling with her mental health and well-being.

After joining a life changing expedition by the British Exploring Society to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest in 2018, where she spent three weeks in a remote part of the jungle learning to live in the outdoors, Kwesia decided to create City Girl in Nature, as a way to give back to her community. Kwesia is now on a mission to share her love for the outdoors and connect with other young people, who are nature-deprived and excluded from such experiences, and support them on their own pathways to healing and self-discovery.

Will Burns

Will Burns was named as one of the Faber and Faber New Poets for 2014. His first full collection, Country Music, was published in 2020, and his debut novel, The Paper Lantern, was published in July 2021. He was named as one of The Observer’s Top 10 Debut Novelists of 2021 and is the OmVed Gardens poet in residence.

Amelia Rouse

Amelia Rouse is from Barbados. While she studied civil engineering, her first love is illustration and she produces beautiful work in pen and ink with an emphasis on nature. She’s been illustrating for Where the Leaves Fall since issue #3.

Oluwaseyi Oso

Oluwaseyi Oso is a Nigerian writer, poet, singer/songwriter, and photography enthusiast. His writing and poems often touch on environmental and human rights issues.

We asked Oluwaseyi about his connection to nature, how nature guides his practice and how storytelling can shape our collective conscious.

Maia Magoga

Maia Magoga is a visual artist, cook and food grower from London, UK. With a Brazilian and Argentinian heritage, Maia has become fascinated by food’s potential to nurture a sense of belonging and initiate conversations around ecology and ancestral knowledge. Her practice focuses on the relationship between human and nonhuman nature and the intangible flows of exchange between human and environment, body and land. We talked with Maia about the lessons she learned in nature, the rituals she practice to keep her grounded and how food can help us to think and act more collectively.

Vicky Chown

Vicky Chown is a medical herbalist, forager and gardener. She teaches permaculture and urban food growing in Queen’s Wood Community Garden and OmVed Gardens in London - where she also co-organises The Seed Saving Network - a biodiverse community of seed savers in London and across the United Kingdom.

Vicky also co-runs, alongside Kim Walker, The Handmade Apothecary, a foraging and herbal educational project. Together they have co-authored two books: The Handmade Apothecary and The Herbal Remedy Handbook.

Karen Leason / Omved Gardens

Karen Leason is the director and founder of OmVed Gardens, a garden, exhibition space and sustainable food project in north London, which aims to re-establish the connection between the urban population, food and nature.

A partner of the UN World Food Programme and Chefs Manifesto, OmVed aims to educate and inspire conversations around sustainable food practices and ecological transformations. Committed to foster creativity and community-led change, OmVed Gardens plays host to an inspiring collective of artists, creatives, horticulturalists and chefs. Follow @omvedgardens to find out more and join their upcoming events.