Creative in the Countryside: Julie Herbert Adams
Julie Herbert Adams is a Fine Art Portrait and Floral Photographer, creative Brand Director and trainee florist. Today, she tells us a little about her work and how she finds her inspiration.
Jessica: I’d love for you to start by telling us more about you and your story, who you are and what it is you do?
Julie: I was born in London and was always known as ‘Dolly Daydream’ mainly because my head was always so full of fantasy, creative ideas for makeup and fashion as well as music! I remember when Bohemian Rhapsody came out in the 1970’s when we lived in a high-rise flat overlooking a park, and I used to listen to it looking at the park pretending that my eyes were cameras and I was the one making the video for the song! However, living in my dream-world suited my calm and very laid-back nature and I wrote lots of fantasy stories often involving magic, fairies and haunted woods. I really didn’t feel connected or aligned to the bright neon lights, the buzz and the brashness of living in London and remember taking my little brothers on a bus to the nearest woods and fields in Farnborough, Kent where I felt at home and believed that magic was everywhere. I escaped to the countryside as soon as I could and saw the world at once through open eyes, ears and heart.
My creativity has always been such an integral part of who I am and I have always found writing to be incredibly therapeutic in good and bad times. My life has been quite colourful in the opportunities that I have received and the decisions that I have made so after working in the healing and care-sector, I moved to the Middle East in 2008 with my husband and children. Here, I worked as a brand and marketing director creating a variety of brands for the healthcare sector along with founding organisations such as Nourish and the Pink Brigade who help women and families affected by breast cancer through education about early detection and healthy lifestyle choices. I returned to the UK in 2017 burnt out, exhausted and in need of healing myself.
After a year of reflection, I decided to stop working like a demon for other people and with the never-ending support of my husband, chose to focus entirely on the things that I truly loved to do. My art, my photography, my writing, my music and my garden were almost lost to me and these were the things that I instinctively knew would help to bring me back to life again. Life went from constant frantic, high level stress to peace and tranquillity almost overnight and it took me a while to adjust, learning how to breathe and how to embrace change without feelings of fear or guilt or failure.
As a natural storyteller, being close to nature once again and able to follow the seasonal rhythms or wheel of the year I re-discovered the magic again and began to fall in love with capturing these special moments of tranquillity and beauty with my camera.
My fine art portraiture mainly of children focuses on the essence of the child and I endeavour to capture a timeless image that not only tells a story, but that could be set in any period of time.
Jessica: Can you tell me about where you find your inspiration?
Julie: I am incredibly fortunate to live in a very old secluded house built in 1543 that is full of history and situated next to a river overlooking a wood. It really is like Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood and I’m forever telling my daughter that the Magic Faraway Tree is in there somewhere!
Inspiration is all around me. I watch the sun rise over the wood and see it setting over the sheep field. I hear the birdsong and the river, the heron, eagle and fox. With the night, comes the owl song and other strange sounds I don’t recognise but that ignite my imagination. And then there is the Moon. Possibly the most constant celestial being of wonder and inspiration throughout my whole life and the thing that I love the most.
I read somewhere long, long ago that there was a thin veil between the world of men and the ‘other’ world of fairies, where animals and trees talk and enchantment is everywhere so I’ve always told my children that this is true and that all they need to do is look and listen very carefully. The recent wonderful book ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wholleben is testament to my theory and now I tell the kids I was right all along…
Music of course, is a total inspirational and I draw energy from my musical heroine, Kate Bush as well as giants from the world of classical music such as Rachmaninov, Chopin and Elgar. Then again, ancient choral music, Celtic and folk, The Doors, soul, jazz, Bowie and Fleetwood Mac… the list goes on and on.
Jessica: I am also interested in knowing more about how you view creativity; is it something you can rely on every day?
Julie: For me, creativity is everywhere. It is an energy with its own allure and is always present. One just has to look and listen hard enough. Some of my best creative work has come to me in dreams.
Mindfulness is a great way to tap into internal creative reserves and artistic expression can be accessed in so many ways such as digital art, sound, singing, writing or storytelling. It’s also worth noting that creativity can also spring from tragedy and disaster. The horrifying destruction of our natural environment can inspire great creativity in thinking how to find solutions for preservation and restoration. I am ever hopeful.
Jessica: How do you balance your interests?
Julie: I am usually up in the morning between 5am – 6am so that I can get a couple of hours quiet time in and plan the day ahead plus catch up on any admin that I’m behind with. During the day and between the school run and dog walks, I’ll be busy shooting and then in the evenings, when the kids have gone to bed, I will focus on editing, more planning and research usually going to bed to read at around 9.30 – 10pm.
I am in the final stages of my OCN floristry course which I did at college to give me the practical knowledge and techniques needed to create amazing floral masterpieces to compliment my photography. I also grow my own flowers at home to photograph and to style photoshoots. Balancing my love of flowers and photography is a little tricky but I do believe that there is a marriage to be had between them.
Jessica: Where do you work? What’s important about this environment?
Julie: I work from home mainly as I have my garden, photography and flower studio here plus it’s such a gorgeous spot I really couldn’t think of being anywhere else. I have an elderly one-eyed pug, a rather eccentric sausage dog and the most handsome year-old black Labrador to care for too so it’s easy to walk over the river to the woods for some exercise. It’s just amazing to see the wood and the garden evolve through the seasons as well as how the light changes them visually throughout the day. The sounds and the smells fascinate me.
Jessica: What impact would you like to create with your work?
Julie: I would be privileged if my work inspired others to see the beauty and magic that I see in the simple things in life that are all around us but that sometimes, we are just too busy to notice. The little intricate details that in themselves are so wonderful once you actually slow down and look, are inspiring in themselves. I would hope it would inspire people to take more care with themselves and the natural world around us and to savour every day with gratitude.
Jessica: And lastly, if someone reading your story were inspired to follow their own creative dream, what advice would you give them?
Julie: It’s often the fear of change that prevents people from following their own heart and living an authentic, creative life. We are all burdened with financial worries and are constantly bombarded with advertisements that encourage more and more consumerism with sinister algorithms tracking our every move on the internet and social media putting unbelievable pressure on the young to be perfect and live perfect lives. However, changes can be made without destabilising and turning your world upside down!
Instead of guillotining situations as I have done in the past to make instant changes, my advice would be to set aside some time in the day or night that you can claim as yours alone without distraction to think about the life you would choose to live and how you would choose to express your creative dream. Then set a clear intention to make the change that you are seeking and truly believe that it will happen. See it crystal clear in your mind’s eye. Map your intention out to a timeline and set realistic goals starting with simple, small changes first. Soon, you will find that when you stop to take stock periodically, you will notice the shift beginning to take place. The smaller changes will empower and encourage you to move forwards with more confidence and a stronger belief that you really are the master of your own destiny.