Ian Siddons Heginworth  

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Contact Ian: ian@environmentalartstherapy.co.uk


  About Ian

Ian Siddons Heginworth lives with his wife and children in Exeter, Devon. He is a leading practitioner, innovator and teacher of environmental arts therapy, an arts based ecotherapy that uses the locations, themes, cycles and materials of Nature as its therapeutic media. He is a drama therapist registered with the U.K. Health Professions Council and has an Mphil in drama. Having retired from the National Health Service after thirty five years (mainly employed as a specialist practitioner in mental health and learning disability services) he now runs a private practise as an environmental arts therapist in therapeutic woodland near Exeter, Devon. He also delivers the post graduate certificate course in Environmental arts therapy at the London art therapy Centre with his colleague Gary Nash, runs other environmental arts therapy courses and workshops throughout the UK and works as a freelance storyteller.

A return to the garden is a return to life in the face of death. It is a return to that that truly sustains and empowers us. When I was a child I spent all my time in the garden. There was a row of silver birch trees in which my brother, sister and I hung ropes and poles. They became our castle. We looked down upon the enemy, the nettles on the compost heap below, and sometimes we would descend and attack them with sticks. I made dens for my action men in the rock garden, built ant islands on trays of water and led expeditions through the shrubbery. Everything I needed was there.
 Later as an adult, I worked for many years with people who had profound and complex disabilities. In a world of hardly any speech and limited mobility; intuition and metaphor were all that I could count on. I sought common ground, an area of human experience that was meaningful regardless of skills or needs and found it once again outside the studio doors. On hillsides and beaches, in forests, meadows and gardens. Here again was this synchronistic and spontaneous media, this infinite cupboard of materials, this ever changing canvas. Everything I needed was there.
 Now as an environmental arts therapist I lead people into wild places and ask simply “how are you?” As their story unfolds I notice metaphors that have depth, hold feeling or are pertinent to the month that we are in. I follow the scent, questioning, until a hidden vein of feeling emerges. Then we seek it or make it among the trees, with stone, with wood, with water. There is a dialogue, an exchange, a battle, a revelation. Feeling is released at last. Wounds begin to heal. Things change. Everything we need is there.

Environmental arts therapy and the Tree of life is the fruit of this work

This is a book about the human heart and its deep and enduring connection to Nature and her cycles. It is the result of over twenty years working as an environmental arts therapist in therapeutic woodlands around Devon, England. It became apparent that the same metaphors were emerging spontaneously in people’s work at particular times of the year and that the Celtic Ogham tree calendar served as an indigenous system of reference for this. I ran an environmental arts therapy course called “The circle of trees” for many years before deciding to put all that I have learned into this book.

But Ian is a father too and this book is also for anyone who is concerned about the environmental crisis that we are passing on to our children

Why in the face of ecological degradation and climate change do we find it so hard, collectively and individually, to act? Why as the wild beauty of the Earth is plundered, sanitized or wiped away do we even struggle to feel our grief at all that we are losing? Is it because the pain of ecocide is so great that the mind can only meet it with denial? Or is it because the abuse and neglect of Nature, the outer feminine, is an outward and cumulative manifestation of our cultural tendency to abuse and neglect the feeling self, the inner feminine?
 If so, then we may not be able to truly feel or act on behalf of the outer until we have met and endured the inner. If so, then the maxim “think globally, act locally” has never been more true, but this time the immediate locality is the human heart.

At the heart of everything Ian writes is a profound love of Nature

Nature has many ways of refilling us. When we awake to the glory of a beautiful sunrise she fills us with hope. When we play like children in the waterfall she fills us with joy. When we answer her thunder with our own she fills us with power. When we kneel by the river and surrender an image of our lost one to its currents, she fills us with grief.  When we sit with the wisdom that comes from seeing and understanding our journey, watching swans gliding in silence on the dark lake, she fills us with reverence. And when the work is done and we stand alone on the hillside beneath the stars she fills us with grace.