Sometimes the world can seem a dark and foreign place, where the news spews doom and gloom at every turn and nothing can be done. It’s very easy to get stuck within the humdrum of life, believing that it has never been any different. Elementum inspires you to look upwards at the clouds and the birds, to truly see the trees and wildlife around you, and the people who dedicate their lives to it. Just as we continually seem to separate mind and body, we separate ourselves from the world we inhabit. Elementum is not only a journal of nature and story, but a crossing, so that we might re-enter a forgotten place.

Now in its fourth issue, Elementum is as sturdy and well-presented as it has always been. The typography and layout are simple, but not without care. The striking photography and artwork means that the white space only enhances what is around it with a stark purity which oddly seems more at home here than on the pages of fashion or lifestyle magazines. There’s no need to overlay text and strew colour to draw the eye, when drowsy watercolours from Lucy Eldridge and illustrations by Neil Gower and Georgie Bennett do enough to console the reader. Although photography has featured more heavily in previous issues, this one gives more space to artworks and illustration which lends itself to its theme: shape.

Margaret’s swishing otter’s tail, the flourish of wind and cloud, represents a deepening of our connection with nature. As artists illustrate the countryside, lacemaker Jane Atkinson weaves the eddies of Stanpit Marsh in Dorset and ornithologist Emma L. Turner photographs Norfolk birds. Each story flutters with windswept landscapes, with gentleness adverse to the common domination of our natural world. As Annie Worsley quotes Nan Shepherd’s description of the Cairngorm Mountains, ‘one walks into a mountain rather than upon it.’

The language is broad, well-read and often lyrical, which means you have to tune yourself into the rhythm, but once you recognise the melody it’s hard to pull away. Expertly interwoven, it’s both informative and mystical, bringing the factual into the realm of the fantastical. Here, footprints from thousands of years ago can be uncovered, from the heavy footfalls of hunters, to the delicate patter of playful children, and writers take inspiration from woodlands.

From the first article on Māori wrasse to guillemot eggs, Elementum reaches nature-lovers and the world-weary alike, drawing them into a realm where everyone can find an article of interest or, at the very least, appreciate something startling beautiful. It highlights our co-dependency within nature, through botanist and plant, and marine biologist and fish. For those looking for sense of ease and peace in the natural world, Elementum does not fail. 

Libby Borton


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