Elementum Issue 5

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Elementum Issue 5

In Edition Five we gather round the hearth, as we have since the Stone Age, to listen to stories, honour those who have gone before and lean in to discern what the earth might be telling us. 

Raynor Winn writes from experience about what happens when we leave the four walls we call home and walk into the unknown, while Colin Taylor learns from the animals that curl round our feet but whose domestication is only skin deep. With Helen Scales, who draws on the writing of Rachel Carson, we follow currents that unite bodies of water that are all one ocean, and with Stephen Moss we scan the heavens for lines of migration travelled by birds and butterflies. In rural Humboldt County, artist-blacksmith Monica Coyne considers carbon and iron – elements that unite us with every living thing – and questions the mighty but destructive forces of her trade. 

This edition offers work from storytellers – such as Sara BaumeWyl Menmuir and Eleanor Parker – while celebrating the vision of artists including Lucy EldridgeNeil Gower and Catherine Hyde. With other storytellers, we travel from the fired earth of Hawai‘i to the Flow Country peatlands of Scotland, and from the early settlements of Papua New Guinea to the towns of medieval Humberside, learning from the expertise of others and exploring different ways to capture a deep connection to place. Above all we understand, as Nicola Davies and Jim Crumley urge, to look at and listen intently to a particular patch of land to find the insight innate in the creatures that live there.

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Elementum is a biannual journal that explores our place in the natural world through new writing, illustration and photography.

Founder, creative director and contributing editor Jay Armstrong was born and brought up in Glasgow. After university, Jay spent a number of years as an Army officer before leaving the military to work as a freelance photographer. When her Royal Navy pilot husband joined the Search & Rescue squadron in Cornwall, she and their young family followed and Jay went back to university to study for an MA in Professional Writing at Falmouth University.

This is where she developed her idea for a collectable ‘journal of nature and story’. It was during her studies that Jay realised that her childhood fascinations with stories, pictures and nature had been left behind in the busyness of an education that separated the artist from the scientist and weighted profession against vocation. Inspired by the wilder landscapes of Cornwall and West Scotland, Jay set out to create a publication that explores our place in the natural world – a journal in which folklore sits alongside scientific findings and visual narratives carry as much weight as written stories.

Now living in Dorset, Jay lectures on publishing and multimedia storytelling at Falmouth, Plymouth, and Kent University. She founded the Porthleven Literary Festival and is becoming a regular at the Port Eliot festival interviewing nature writers.