leaves with smiley faces drawn on them on top of wooden box above is an arm with leaf bracelet
© Sandy Evans

New 'Creative Nature Boxes' encourage local families to connect with nature in the East Devon AONB

Eight new wooden Creative Nature Boxes have been installed in Harpford Woods, near Sidmouth. Each box contains a different creative prompt designed to encourage people to enjoy nature in new ways.

These include calming activities from forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) and meditation, contemplative suggestions such as writing a Haiku poem and ‘thoughts for the future’ to child-friendly activities like ‘make a nature bracelet’ and ways to make a linear walking map.

The Creative Nature Boxes have been developed from a successful pilot project 'Art on the East Devon Way' led by Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) with East Devon AONB Partnership and Clinton Devon Estates in 2017, where artist Lizzy Humber produced several engaging story jars which were hidden in the woods.

The Creative Nature Boxes provide opportunities for people to connect with nature in new ways and also encourage community feedback and suggestions. The Creative Nature Boxes will house further new activities over the coming months, as Double Elephant Print Workshop and the East Devon AONB Partnership continue to work with community groups through a new lottery grant, Places Called Home, funded by IKEA UK and The National Lottery Community Fund.

Kate Ponting, Countryside Learning Officer for Clinton Devon Estates explained,

Clinton Devon Estates’ forestry stewardship in East Devon includes a commitment to provide public access, wherever possible, alongside the production of sustainable timber. Harpford is an ancient woodland site and, whatever the season, is great place to explore on foot. We see this as an exciting partnership with East Devon AONB and THG to enable visitors of all ages to make creative natural connections.

During lockdown local people left messages of hope in the story jars so it will be interesting to see what will come out of people's interactions with this new and more permanent installation in the future.

The Creative Nature Boxes are in Harpford Woods now. Be inspired by the ideas inside each box and have fun looking for them all. Don't forget to share photos/comments/ideas and tag @thelmahulbertgallery and @eastdevonAONB.


Creative Nature Boxes, Harpford Woods, Sidmouth

Starting point Sidmouth, just off the A3052: Google Maps Plus code: PP5H+XW Sidmouth / Ordnance Survey grid ref: SY 1051 9066 
Starting point Harpford Village/Newton Poppleford: Google maps plus code: PP47+VGQ Sidmouth / Ordnance Survey grid ref: SY 0925 9051