The Magpie Anthology

From Field to Forest: An Artist’s Year in Paint and Pen

I’m a confirmed fiction reader and apart from an almost unhealthy interest in the collecting of cookbooks, I don’t normally read very much non fiction. However, having been locked down for rather too much of last year, I began to appreciate my surroundings far more that I had done in recent years and so onto the Christmas list went foraging books, wild food and butterfly and bird identification and this, which I had heard great things about particularly from the lovely Matt Inwood on Instagram.

If you want something to settle down to in front of the fire on a Sunday afternoon then this is it. A beautiful journal about living in and off the countryside through gathering and stacking wood, foraging and growing vegetable and fruit and the keeping of bees, renowned illustrator Anna Koska’s book is an absolute joy. Interspersed with her illustrations of birds, animals, vegetables and natural ephemera, her descriptive powers of how the weather, her dogs and just family life evolve, make me wish that I’d written this book myself. It brought to mind my own country childhood in Ireland with the hated Sunday afternoon walk through the fields (always with a bag in case we found something useful) picking up kindling or gathering wild damsons, blackberries or great bunches of primroses which smelled of spring. It also reminded me of my maternal grandmother who took great delight in scrumping from the neighbours armed with a broom and a wicked cackle as the pears from their tree rained down into her garden.

As I sit here in my little office with the windowsill overflowing with sprouting seeds (no point putting them in the greenhouse as the mice had the first lot of sweet peas), I’m reminded that despite everything that’s happened in the past year, on this the first anniversary of lockdown, nature has seasonally come and gone as though nothing has changed and thank goodness for that. I’m looking forward to seeing the birds again and the butterflies, walking along the seashore picking up bits and bobs of shells and stones to display in the garden and growing loads of veg and flowers to enjoy. Anna’s book has re-inspired me to look around and see what’s out there in nature and I’ve already bought the book for a friend. Treat yourself, it’s wonderful!

You can buy From Field to Forest HERE

1 thought on “From Field to Forest: An Artist’s Year in Paint and Pen”

  1. Such a kind and lovely review. Thank you!
    I’m so glad you found my book enjoyable.
    Best of wishes and happy spring to you,

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