Autumn is my favourite time of the year to be outdoors exploring the New Forest; foraging for juicy blackberries, collecting fallen crab apples and enjoying the season’s changing colours. It’s also a wonderful time to create some amazing land art – all you need are leaves and a creative imagination.
Land art is fun and can be done by anyone and anywhere. It involves making art and sculptures using materials you find in nature such as leaves, fir cones, twigs, pebbles, shells, sand and mud – there is an endless source of possibilities. It’s all about exploring, experiencing and being inspired by the natural world around you.
Making leafy sculptures is a great way to learn about trees, and of course autumn brings a seemingly never-ending supply of fallen leaves in a fabulous variety of shapes, sizes and colours. I like to read to groups the beautifully illustrated story ‘Leaf Man’ by Lois Ehlert and show pictures of land art created by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy for inspiration. Now you’re ready to begin!
- Step one: Explore – check out your nearest park or arboretum where you’ll find unusual tree species. Maple leaves, particularly Japanese maples, come in many shapes and colours – from yellows, pinks, oranges and red. Also, discover the Forest’s ancient beech woodlands – they are truly stunning after a frost which triggers all the leaves to turn yellow.
- Step two: Collect – use a small basket to collect leaves that you like; that are interesting and colourful. Also look for things that you can find around trees such as conkers, prickly chestnut cases, acorns, fir cones, beech nuts, winged sycamore seeds and berries.
- Step three: Where – find a special place to make your sculpture. Land art is not just about making something with the natural materials you’ve found but about the places you found them.
- Step four: Create – sort through your collection of materials and decide on what to make. I often provide cut willow stems which make lovely wing shapes for creating a dragonfly or butterfly. Younger children like a shape to decorate and this often gives them the confidence to then make their own land art. Let your imagination run free – now you’re ready to get making!
So become a land artist; enjoy the fresh air, explore and learn about nature and discover some of the beautiful places we live.