Gainsborough, The Wood Gatherers, 1787
It doesn’t have to be vast acres of rolling woodland. It can be some little scrubby commons. Children don’t need a lot of big green nature. They just need something. There is that sense that children have of loving a particular tree. I think being outdoors gives them a sense of tranquility. The woods are a place where children can go to think. Children gravitate towards these spaces. When I was a child it was nothing more than a scrubby little overhang under a rhododendron bush but it was incredibly important to me. Cities everywhere become so over-tidied and controlled and subject to surveillance. Children want their own dens, which are like cocoons. Any child who has had a den remembers that place, the importance of it. It’s a place of reverie, a state which is so important to childhood.