Week 3: Words from the Wild

Getting into observation!


Welcome back to Words from the Wild. Over the last two weeks we have looked at the first two chapters written about Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Explorer. One thing that caught my attention in the beautiful illustrations in the book are the very minute details recorded.

Maria spent many hours observing insects and small creatures, often bringing them home so that she didn’t miss changes as they occurred. Observing in this way we start to understand the habits, environments and life cycles of even the tiniest creatures. This week’s class is therefore focused on getting into detail, imagining ourselves in miniature worlds.

You are free to read through the exercises as something interesting to think about in your day, or to pick one or two that capture your interest. Please do send me any writing or sketching that you do, I would love to share your work on this blog.

Task 1: (5 mins) Imagine yourself as a tiny ladybird. Free write for five minutes imagining that you are walking on a leaf covered in beads of dew. (Consider your perspective from a ladybird’s view point, how do you navigate your environment, how does the leaf feel underneath you?)

Task 2: (10 mins) Life in a pond. Maria Sibylla Marian spent many hours studying wildlife. Maria recorded all the stages of frog spawn developing from an egg, to a tadpole, to beautiful golden eyed frogs. Imagine that you are a scientist discovering frogs eggs for the first time. Write a diary entry recording where you found jelly eggs in a pond, describe your amazement as you have watched them develop. Write about your observations and what has surprised you. To help with this task you might want to research the lifecycle of a frog!

Task 3: (5 mins) What can we learn from insects? For fun write an advice column from a ‘’minibeast’ addressed to the ‘Human Beings’! (Perhaps an ant is encouraging us to get out to the gym, or a snail gives a lesson in mindfulness and slowing down!?)

Task 4: (5mins) If you can get outdoors record any evidence of mini beasts that you find! Have leaves been munched? Have trails been left? Did you notice any cobwebs? If you are indoors – look around- is anyone living on your window frames or even in your home?!

I hope you enjoyed thinking about these tasks.

With best wishes


Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

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