Project Archivist, Kate Guariento, gives an update on the community workshops and events held as part of the Nature’s Cure project
It’s been a busy few months moving forwards with the ‘Nature’s Cure in Time of Need: New Voices for North East Nature’ project. Since my last update in March 2023, I’ve made more links with archives and community groups across the North East, hosted two well-attended archive events at the Great North Museum: Hancock, and kicked off the ‘Nature’s Cure’ community workshops with the brilliant people at the Young Women’s Outreach Project in Gateshead.
Recently the young people at the Young Women’s Outreach Project and I tried our hand at nature printing, at a workshop facilitated by Helen at Northern Print. The results were stunning and allowed us to notice and chat about details in plants and leaves that we otherwise might have just skipped over.
At each workshop, I’ve brought along copies of artwork and photographs from the North East Nature Archive to tie the work being produced in the community workshops to the amazing artwork preserved in the North East Nature Archive, linking us with North East naturalists and artists in the past. It’s been really rewarding to bring the North East Nature Archive out to community groups, to show how engaging with nature – not only scientifically but also artistically and emotionally – has a long history in the North East. Projects such as ‘Nature’s Cure in Time of Need’ are great ways of showing how collections such as those preserved in the North East Nature Archive not only give insight into history, but allow us to see our current moment in a different light. The Women Naturalists in the North East events have been an opportunity to look at our history differently – not only the history of NHSN but the history of natural and social history in the North East more broadly. It was wonderful to be able to spotlight some of the remarkable women naturalists that have contributed to the study of natural history in the North East over centuries, but whose stories have been neglected in comparison to their male counterparts. As an attendee put it, “it has revealed so much about natural history and the importance of women in documenting and recording”. It was fascinating to chat to attendees at the event, and again to bring past and present together by hearing about inspiring work currently being done by women naturalists in the North East.
Archive volunteer, Maureen Fisher, gave a fascinating talk at the Women Naturalists in the North East event about the Hancock Museum’s first female curator, Gladys Scott. Special thanks are due to the wonderful archive volunteers who contribute their time, skills, and enthusiasm to the North East Nature Archive. From transcribing and box listing to research and cataloging, their work is invaluable not only to the Nature’s Cure project but to the North East Nature Archive and NHSN as a whole.
Unfortunately, I will be leaving the Nature’s Cure project in August. I do so with a heavy heart, as I think the project is important and it has been a joy to work with the volunteers, community groups, and colleagues who have made my time at NHSN so rewarding. However, an opportunity has come up to help expand an archive in my hometown of Glasgow and it’s an opportunity too good to miss. I’m sad to be leaving the Nature’s Cure project and NHSN, but I am very happy about the strength and momentum of the project and I am looking forward to supporting the new Project Archivist to take the project forwards.
If you’d like to hear more about the ‘Nature’s Cure in Time of Need: New Voices for North East Nature’ project, you can sign up to receive updates by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.