Whether we've already discovered them or not, we all have our own ways of finding inner peace. For Hannah Bullen-Ryner, it comes through reconnecting with Mother Earth.
Bullen-Ryner composes beautiful birds using only natural materials found locally and no permanent fixings. Scavenging her surroundings, she puts together flowers, leaves, twigs, and berries to form delicate portraits either on the woodland floor or under one small oak. When she's done, they last only a few moments before nature starts reclaiming them. Luckily, that brief period of time is enough for Hannah to photograph her artworks, or as she calls it, offerings to Mother Nature. Soon after, they get taken by the breeze, rearranged by the rain, or wriggled through by an insect and leave no trace behind.
The artist says she creates to share her love for nature and to soothe her soul, and you can definitely feel it in the photos of her ephemeral pieces. Continue scrolling and enjoy.
Bullen-Ryner is both an artist and someone who appreciates nature, having been outdoors her whole life. "Originally a painter and photographer, I have always found art to be cathartic, a way to let it all out, a way to express what couldn't be said," she told Bored Panda. "Equally, I have always felt deeply connected to the Earth and to her magic and her ability to soothe a weary soul."
"I have always struggled with anxiety and when my wife and I had twin daughters three years ago, this peaked. I would say I went into crisis, I felt like I lost myself entirely. Looking back, I was almost certainly suffering from postnatal depression and very lost. Then one day, when the girls were about 16-17 months old, I took myself off to go and simply sit in a small patch of woodland and find some calm for an hour."
That day, she made a very simple, circular formation using leaves and twigs she foraged around her, inspired by the land artists she had seen online and a desire to bond with her environment. "As I sat with the finished piece, a small muntjac deer wandered into the clearing where I was, and when we locked eyes, rather than bolting, it stayed with me happily in my presence for about 20 minutes. Afterwards, when I considered it, it felt as if I had opened a portal in the woodland that day, one that would unlock the conversation between myself and Mother Earth."
Naturally, Bullen-Ryner has continued the dialogue and made land art as both "a way to honor Mother Earth and cope with my mental health almost daily ever since." Though she said many people don't understand why she makes something so temporary or how she can walk away from it once it's complete, it is exactly these reasons that make it so sacred to her. "I get to download all the chaos from my brain, turn it into something beautiful, and walk away feeling so much lighter in my soul," the woman explained.
"Once I started making pieces using only natural materials, I began to truly see all the little details and uniqueness of each and every plant, tree or bush. The tiny wildflowers, the wonderful array of berries, the constantly changing rainbow of color and texture. I am inspired by the forage, the excitement of not knowing what I will find that day, and never knowing what I will end up with after a creative free-flow."
Land art is her peace, her joy, her 'me time', and her connection to our beautiful planet. And for every person who can't fathom the meaning of her art, there are at least a couple who really appreciate it. "I have messages from all over the world these days from people inspired to show others what I do or try it themselves. It makes my heart full to know that people have been giving back to Mother Earth in similar ways. She deserves our utmost love, respect, appreciation, and protection," Bullen-Ryner said.