winter tree outlines, old maps, folk-names for plants, children's drawings, rusty keys, driftwood, battered old books with scribbled notes, the quick sight of a jay gathering acorns, clouds that take you to other worlds, stones worn by time, lichen that curls and clings onto bark, sandcastles you come across as you walk along the sea-shore...
Many things inspire and influence me - many of them in subtle ways as they gently whisper in my ear and nudge me! I think, like almost everyone, I carry so much inside me from my childhood, things which sit deep inside me and have always inspired me. Some of those things have lain almost forgotten about until something has caused them to surface and remind me about them. I think that's one of the reasons I feel the landscapes we provide for children are crucial - the things children see, hear, touch, smell and taste will all shape them for the rest of their lives. As adults we have a vital role to play in offering children ideas and experiences that can inspire and excite their imaginations.
I'm inspired by the weather, the changing seasons, natural light and working outside. Taking almost all resources and materials outside can bring a new dimension to investigations as sunlight changes the way things look, feel and respond.
Tiny things - both things made and things found - hold a great wonder. Tiny books, teeny models, small details... Little fallen petals, moss, lichen, the patterns on a lacewing, a wrens nest, flower buds, the smallest twigs, a found blue tit feather... And collections...
Marks, textures and surfaces - made by people, creatures, weather and time. Humans are driven to make marks and leave traces of where they have been and drawing is a powerful tool in this. I spend a lot of time drawing with very young children and am really inspired by the different things that drive children to explore mark-making and the different ways they use drawing.
Shadows, images that move around, people moving - and telling stories... Visual images can become even more captivating when they are animated and move about. And add sounds and words and you have something with so many layers.
Stories can fill you with ideas and take you to a million different places, stories can give you a way to reflect on yourself and on the world around you. Humans are driven to explain the world around them through stories - and have shared tales for generations. I'm inspired by different spaces for stories and in creating these with groups (and those spaces often occur in unexpected ways).
Things that might be overlooked or thrown away... A tiny scrap of paper from an old book with a few words on can spark an idea for a question or a story.
Trees, leaves, stones, soil ... Nature throughout the seasons. Dawn and dusk are powerful times to be out and about and I'm frequently up early with my camera to listen, watch and search. Every season holds wonders and exploring those with the groups I work with is very special. There's also something soothing and calming about the natural cycle of the seasons and the way things change, grow and develop over time.