In 2012, Robert Bateman, a world-renowned artist and environmentalist, founded the Bateman Foundation. He wanted to help people reconnect with nature, hoping that, in turn, people would be inspired to conserve and protect it. The goal is to create a lasting legacy – one where our world is preserved and our children “know their neighbours.”
This is not an easy task to accomplish, and the foundation started small. Nine years later, its flagship program – Nature Sketch – has become a great success. The premise behind Nature Sketch is simple: rebuilding our relationships with nature by sketching it. Participants are guided by artists and naturalists as they learn about local ecosystems through sketch and study.
In the trying times of a pandemic, the need for people to connect with nature is even greater. Sketching nature not only promotes knowledge, understanding and connection to the environment, but the act itself is also a mindful one: taking time to stop, look and sketch can be a useful tool for managing mental health in a time of isolation and anxiety.
The Bateman Foundation redesigned its programs in the wake of COVID-19, and the new online courses attracted participants from as far as Europe. They have also launched free drop-in sessions guided by an art therapist for the local community. Swing by the Bateman Gallery in Victoria on Tuesday evenings or Thursday mornings, and you will be welcomed to express your unique creativity and find support in each other.
In 2021, the foundation will re-introduce in-person outdoor education programs on Vancouver Island, after months of preparation to integrate new safety protocols. In Victoria and Duncan, you might be able to see participants of all ages studying and sketching outdoors on the weekends: Junior and Adult classes will run on Saturdays starting in May. Meanwhile, online programs will continue to run – if Nature Sketch is not yet available in your area, you can still join in!
This past year has taught us to appreciate the importance of nature in our lives. Studies have shown reconnecting with nature can improve mental health, boost energy and promote overall well-being. Nature helps children unleash creativity, and gives them a chance to exercise, play and discover. The Bateman Foundation is very proud to be doing this work. In the words of Robert Bateman: “Nature is magic.”
For information on Nature Sketch classes in your area and online, please visit: https://batemanfoundation.org/naturesketch/