Louise Kenward, writer in residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve | Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Louise Kenward, writer in residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Tuesday, 19th October 2021

Louise Kenward, writer in residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
Louise Kenward © Emma Chaplin

Tell us a bit about yourself

I have come to writing through travel and illness. I think language and writing offers us all a great deal in sharing and understanding complicated and difficult experiences, as well as celebrating the joys and wonders of the world.

I spent nearly twenty years working as a psychologist (mostly within the NHS), and latterly trained as an artist. Shortly after that I became seriously ill with what was then diagnosed as post viral fatigue.

Recovering in part I spent a year travelling overland, "accompanied" by the late Victorian traveller and collector Annie Brassey. This helped me reconnect to the natural world. I became much more aware of my place in the world and of how strongly we are all connected. Travelling mostly by train enabled me to see how landscape moves from mountains to desert, coastline to forests, and I could move at a much slower rate.

Returning to the UK about seven years ago, I started taking writing courses with New Writing South. I worked closely with Bexhill Museum spending time as Artist in Residence, and through this my connection to Annie Brassey also strengthened (much of her remaining collection is now held at Bexhill Museum). I’m currently developing this work as my first full length book weaving history, landscape and travelling solo.

And your relationship with nature and Rye Harbour Nature Reserve?

I have a long history with Rye and Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, my uncle was involved in building the harbour wall in the 1980s, and Camber Sands was my first experience of the beach and coast.

Returning now and having the chance to spend much longer periods of time here, and for the next 18 months, is a really exciting prospect.

You’re the new writer in residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. What does that mean?

As well as a series of workshops, connecting with new and existing visitors to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and having time for my own writing, we will set up projects with the local community, as well as the wider community of writers, readers and nature lovers.

What activities will be taking place?

There is a regular group that will meet monthly.

Other workshops and sessions are currently in the planning stages and we are hoping to offer online as well as in person sessions to a number of different groups currently working with Rye Harbour Nature Reserve as well as to new audiences.

What do you hope people will get out of coming?

I am hoping to offer new perspectives and ways of writing about and connecting with Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

Through a mixture of writing exercises, observation, discussion and looking at work of other writers (particularly those with a local connection to place and writers with disabilities) I will run monthly workshops that will operate as stand-alone sessions as well as building session-by-session to offer a cohesive course.

With the current monthly group there is a walk and tea and cake included as part of the writing session, so I am hoping to offer something for everyone.

I am also planning more accessible workshops for people who have mobility issues, live with chronic illness, or are unable to attend in person for whatever reason. This is currently still in the planning stage.

Who are you hoping will come along? 

All are invited, no experience necessary. 

What should people bring?

Just themselves, some paper and a pen, or a keyboard, however you choose to do your writing.

To find out more...

Keep an eye on Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Twitter and the Sussex Wildlife Trust website. You can follow the project on @Instability_Env on Twitter and @InhabitingInstability on Instagram

Please get in touch if you want any more information. I will post links as and when they are live.

For more information about Louise's art and writing, see her website 

This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website

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