Before the Bluebells is a series of woodland photographs made in a four month period from the beginning of November 2018 until the end of February 2019.

I photographed a group of woodlands that are local to where I live in East Sussex. Although I had visited some of these woodlands before, I really didn’t know them that well. I wanted to spend as much time as possible in these places, making photographs and forming a bond with the landscape.

I chose this time of year because I find it incredibly beautiful, even if slightly melancholic. The struggle of nature as winter takes hold is always going to have parallels with life itself.

Whilst out on a 10 mile woodland walk in March 2018, I decided to visit a nearby beach afterwards. This visit changed my life forever, because I had the very unfortunate experience of finding a father and his two young children at the foot of Beachy Head cliffs. Beachy Head in East Sussex is a beautiful, picturesque place, but also a notorious suicide spot. As you can imagine this was a tremendously traumatic experience and one that will stay with me forever.

After these events I knew I needed a photography project, one that would force me to get back in to the landscape and perhaps serve as some sort of self healing at the same time.

For hundreds of years it’s been widely thought that walking within nature has positive health effects, both physically and mentally. It is said that walking in the woodlands increases our level of white blood cells and lowers our pulse rate, blood pressure and levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). Studies say that even breathing in the air around trees and plants has anti cancer properties.

The woods are a great place to go and lose yourself for a couple of hours and can really do wonders for your state of mind. Take a flask, the dog and head off in to the wilderness. Remember to take time on your walk to stop and take it all in, to breathe in the woodlands around you.

Nature is amazing, but it can seem chaotic. I’m trying to find some order in the disorder, spending time just looking and then carefully framing each photograph. It’s my way of making sense of it all.

Andrew Newson