Thanks for checking in! My name is Susy Paisley. I am a conservation biologist, and the founder and creative director of Newton Paisley where I turn my own illustrations of wild flora and fauna into printed linen and wallpaper.

Blooming Up is something a bit new and different: a collaborative project that invites other people to join in making art depicting wild species. I will combine our artwork into a giant repeating pattern as one flowing, interconnected fabric of life. This is a preliminary website where you can register your interest as we get going (you can leave your details at the bottom of this page).

Why draw?

I have an almost mystical belief in the power of art-making to help people fall in love with nature.  When you step outside, be it for a major booted-up ramble, or just a bare-footed poke about in the garden, if you don’t have the company of a friendly-neighbourhood naturalist, it can be difficult to find a way in to the whole nature thing.

Maybe it’s the fault of our educations, or too much time in front of screens, but if we can’t identify what something is, the curiosity and marvelling can kind of shrivel up and die right there. But when you set out to find things to draw, the emphasis naturally shifts from identifying to really observing.  I’ve always thought that by drawing something, however badly, you automatically form a bond with it and make it your own.


Why repeating pattern?

I find repeating pattern incredibly powerful and believe it speaks to our desire for rhythm and connectedness on a deep level. I have learned to combine my own illustrations into repeating patterns which you can see on Newton Paisley’s website. Then I started wondering how it would work to crowd-source the artwork that I use in pattern creation. Variable, diverse art from nature-lovers of all ages all over the world. Whereas most of the Newton Paisley designs start with around two dozen separate illustrations, our idea here is to accept and accommodate ten times that number. The design will be much more flowing than the above lattice design, probably more like a traditional interconnected Tree of Life below, though much more detailed. 

Newton Paisley Carolina Tree of Life
Carolina Tree of Life, featuring the extinct Carolina Parakeet
The ultimate use of this pattern remains to be determined. It will not be used for profit. My goal is that it be shared and used to campaign for nature, perhaps projected, displayed digitally, or printed as banners.

Why ‘Blooming Up’?

The title of this project, “Blooming Up”, comes from a story from my childhood…

Smack. I was maybe three or four when a little songbird crashed into our living room window. It died instantly leaving a beautiful print of its feathers on the glass. We buried it in a little patch of garden near the cherry tree where I helped plant tulips and hyacinths. I was allowed to keep the print on the glass for a while. I remember sitting inside, studying the intricate pattern left by the feathers, my breath condensing on the glass and giving the print a sort of ghostly life. Weeks went by, watching the cherry tree come into blossom and flowers start to pop up, until I finally asked, “When is that bird going to bloom up?”

The story lingered in my family as a sweet bit of childish silliness. But all these years later I can still feel the tender relationship I had with that ghost-bird. The question still echoes for me as more than just the surreal idea of a bird blooming up like a tulip! And never more than this year, with so much on the line for our society, our biosphere and our climate:  

Can something good bloom up out of sadness and sorrow and death?
From this grim moment, can we turn things around for people and for the planet?

Join in?

There has been a lot in the press about how cut off we screen-obsessed humans have become from nature and how damaging this alienation is, both for us and for the planet. But we must not despair. There are masses of ways of reconnecting to the nature around us (especially this summer when our air is cleaner and travel is curtailed), and art can be a great ally in this process.

Please leave us your details if you’d like to stay in touch as we develop the project. There will be more information, fun pattern-making activities and guidelines for submissions added soon. We will be using the tag #bloomingup to share our work and progress on Instagram. You can also contact us by email using Blooming Up as the subject.