Plant power – speakers visit Lincoln to celebrate the natural world

Credit: Jonathan Trotter

With spring in the air, a fresh venture between the University of Lincoln and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust will launch a series of 10 free public talks in the city, all dedicated to celebrating different flora.

The talks, taking place over the next two years, will provide opportunities to hear from leading figures across a range of sectors and industries, with each talk shining a new light on the importance of plant life.

The inaugural lecture in the series will be delivered by painter, printmaker, illustrator and member of the Society of Wildlife Artists, Carry Akroyd. Renowned for her illustrations of work by nineteenth century poet, John Clare, she will talk on A Tenant of the Happy Fields – John Clare’s Trees and Flowers.

The event will take place on Wednesday 27th March at 6pm, in the Isaac Newton Building on the University of Lincoln’s Brayford Pool Campus.

Carry Akroyd says that an appreciation for the unspectacular has given her a sympathetic connection to Clare, whose writing has been a continuing source of inspiration. Many of Carry’s landscape images echo Clare’s poetry in observing how man affects nature, two hundred years ago and now.

She has illustrated three books of his poems (The Shepherd’s CalendarThis Happy Spirit and The Wood is Sweet) and also two of her own books (Natures Powers & Spells, Landscape Change, John Clare and Me, and recently Found in the Fields). After 20 years of making and exhibiting images relating to the poetry of John Clare, in 2016 Carry was invited to be President of the John Clare Society. Her talk will examine the ways in which nature permeates his poetry.

The new public lectures, running as part of the University of Lincoln’s Great Lives series, are hosted in conjunction with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s #LoveLincsPlants initiative.

Running until Autumn 2020, #LoveLincsPlants is a project launched thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It aims to preserve Lincolnshire’s botanical heritage and inspire and train future botanists.

Tammy Smalley, Head of Conservation at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating the wonderful plants of Lincolnshire and beyond, both with our #LoveLincsPlants campaign and with this new series of fascinating talks. Plants really are so important – we eat them, build with them, wear clothes made from them and breathe the oxygen they create. This series of public lectures will provide a wonderful opportunity for us to take a step back and appreciate all that our plants do for us!”

Other speakers in the series will include leading plant scientist Professor Alison Smith, specialists in rare books and manuscripts Mark James & Anke Timmermann, plus experts from the Natural History Museum and Kew Gardens, with all talks taking place on the University of Lincoln’s Brayford Pool Campus.

The talks are free to attend but places must be booked in advance.