Transform in nature

The first lockdown started and all our senses felt ramped up. We are lucky to live in a city with so many open spaces and tucked away footpaths; we enjoyed exploring the natural world on our doorsteps, the early morning summer haze, clear skies and the dawn chorus.  Many people experienced butterflies, insects, birds and even deer, hedgehogs and foxes never seen in their gardens before.


“We all need space; unless we have it we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us.”

Octavia Hill, born in Wisbech 1888.

Social reformer, pioneer, housing and green spaces campaigner, founder of The National Trust.


Photo Courtesy of Elena Moses.



“Right now trees are more important than ever. During the lockdown, and through the moments of solitude that it has brought about, trees provide us with so many positive benefits that increase our physical and mental well-being when we need it the most. Views of trees through our windows lift our spirits, reduce anxiety, lift depression, and help us to find focus. They encourage us outside to enjoy their beauty and provide us with shelter and shade and in so doing, facilitating physical exercise. And, of course, they are a vital ally in our efforts to combat climate change. So it’s vital that we cherish our existing trees and plant more where we can, including in our gardens.”

Matthew Ling, Cambridge Canopy Project



The Tree Charter

On 22nd October 2020 Cambridge City Council committed The Tree Charter Principles:



“Trees give us wonder. They are rooted in our lives, in our language, our culture, our literature and our art. They hold our stories, traditions and emotions. They are living museums of disappearing ways of life. Nurturing connection to, and pride in, our local trees through art and cultural celebration empowers people to care for our future and to help grow our Urban Forest. I would like to draw your attention to The Tree Charter, developed by the Woodland Trust, and launched in 2017.  I am asking for Cambridge City Council to commit to upholding it’s 10 principles and values, principles for a society in which people and trees can stand stronger together.”

Resident and Ironworks artist in residence Hilary Cox Condron, speaking at Cambridge City Council Full Council Meeting (Minutes 22nd October 2020).


You can sign the Tree Charter here



In Rob Hopkins book ‘From What Is to What If’, he writes:

‘The imagination draws from the palette of options and possibilities that we carry in our memories. It reassembles, cuts and pastes, and makes unique combinations of experiences and ideas we have seen before. The greater the diversity in the natural world around us, and our greater our capacity to notice it, the more we can draw on it as our muse for how to exist in the world.’ And right now, we need to stimulate our imagination more than ever – to nurture the creativity is at the core of us, and to visualise how a new future can look – not just as we move through this lockdown, but for nature herself.


Cambridge Photographer and Activist, Elena Moses, has been observing and photographing nature thriving throughout the pandemic.  

“This is my galwad (‘galwad’ is the Welsh for ‘calling’); capturing nature. Right up close, to appreciate another level of wondrous, structured beauty. My macro lens can expose what my eye can’t always see, and that is thrilling. My mother took me on wildflower walks when I was a child growing up in Wales, where I got a deep appreciation of land, earth and soil; and my biology teacher taught me about the intricacies of ecosystems that we are part of. That’s why I am a climate activist, and why I work with people to rediscover their connection to each other, and humanity’s interconnectedness in the amazing web of life.  We are hard-wired to appreciate this, but so disconnected most of the time. I hope my photos bring a little awe, a little curiosity and a little joy to people that helps that reconnection.”

Elena Moses, in conversation with Hilary Cox Condron. FORGE 2020. Photos courtesy of Elena Moses. See more of Elena’s photos here.


“Loss is the tune of our age. Hard to miss and hard to bear. Creatures places and words disappear day after day, year on year. … wonder is needed now more than ever.”

Cambridge based author Robert Mcfarlane

Help to grow and care for Cambridge’s Urban Forest

Cambridge Canopy Project aims to increase tree canopy cover in the city, which will help the city adapt to climate change.

Tree canopy cover is the name given to the layer of leaves and branches that cover the ground. Forest Research reports the average tree canopy cover figure is 16% in England. Cambridge currently has 17% tree canopy cover. Cambridge Canopy Project is working to increase this to 19%, which will need more than 800,000m2 of new tree cover.

You can find out more about how to get care for and grow Cambridge’s Urban Forest here.


During the November lockdown, Cambridge celebrated Tree Charter Day for the first time – creating a digital Forest of Fascination with Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination. Do you have a favourite tree and story?



Explore Cambridge’s Urban Forest with this Exploration of Cambridges Urban Forest Activity Book by Hilary.


FORGE Pop-Up Exhibition at The Museum of Cambridge 17th December – 8th February

Upstairs in the dining room the Cabinet of Inspiration celebrates local stories of pioneering thought and social justice. as well as sharing inspirational images taken during the pandemic: the first Black Lives Matter demonstration on Parker’s Piece, rainbows in windows and the nature on our doorsteps.

You will see QR codes around the museum which link you to some of the Cambridge groups and initiatives exploring and developing these themes – from community farming and measuring your carbon footprint to exploring Cambridge’s Urban Forest and Cambridge Doughnut Economics.

FORGE is an evolving project, sharing stories, ideas and actions together. We would love to hear from you!

 Please email Ironworks artist in residence Hilary Cox Condron at

Join the conversation on our Facebook page HERE

Hilary Cox Condron on Twitter @mshilarycox

Social distancing has meant we have had to find lots of different ways to connect. The FORGE Community Gallery is another digital opportunity to share our creativity and ideas, and spread a little joy, too. If you would like to add to it, it’s really quite straight forward, there are instructions on the page – posts can be anonymous if you’d like them to be –  and all posts will be monitored before it is made public. We would love you to join us there.

#ForgeCambridge #shapebondtransform

If you would like updates about the IRONWORKS public art programme and future community events, you can sign up to the Resonance-Cambridge mailing list  HERE