Elementum issue 5
Delivered to Stack subscribers in May 2019

by Lucy Corkish in June 2019

Dedicating its pages to stories about nature, landscape and “deep time”, Elementum is environmental without being political, and spiritual without being religious. Its long articles are slow and ruminative, often poetic but only occasionally including poems, and the magazine as a whole seems to speak softly as it tries to locate some essential truth about what it is to live in a particular time and place.





Name
Jay Armstrong

Job title
Commissioning Editor, Creative Director and Publisher

What is Elementum?
An illustrated journal of nature writing. Collectable, biannual, ad-free and independent.

What makes it different to the rest?
We invest heavily in superb writers and editors. Nature writing (writing about the natural world) has become a popular genre and we’re building a reputation amongst publishers, agents and well-known writers who want to work with us. We’re also fortunate to work with superb illustrators including Neil Gower (Bill Bryson’s cover artist) and Jackie Morris (The Lost Words).

Elementum has a quieter voice than many nature-focussed publications and we place as much weight on the visual narrative as much as we do the written. We also bring together art and science, folklore and re-tellings which adds a richness to each edition.

Who makes Elementum?
A small but diverse team of editors and a dedicated creative director and designer.

Who reads it?
We have readers in over 30 countries, with subscribers across all demographics and there is an even gender split. We have readers in their teens to their nineties and what is incredibly gratifying is that each representative group finds something of interest in each edition. We also find that the journal embraces readers from many viewpoints as it focusses on what we, as humans, have in common and what unites rather than divides us – namely, this extraordinary planet we have the privilege to live on and the responsibilities that brings.

Why do you work in magazines?
It’s as simple as I love words, pictures and paper. It’s also about working as part of a team. Creating a biannual publication is a gift to a commissioning editor as each edition allows a new expression, experimentation and the chance to make it even better than the last time. It’s also a huge challenge which I thrive on!

Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
We’ve just opened Elementum Gallery in my West Country home town of Sherborne, Dorset. It was time to find the journal a home and I had wanted, for some time, to bring together the work of the writers and artists we work with. We run courses, will be holding events and exhibitions, and stock a beautiful, carefully chosen and diverse range of natural history, nature writing and science titles.

I’m a visiting lecturer in publishing, photography and design and I’m also involved with literary festivals either interviewing or being interviewed. I had the enormous privilege of being invited by the Forestry Commission to help chose their two writers-in-residence for their centenary year and I’m currently working to develop a programme which will mentor writers from under-represented groups in Dorset.

What would you change about Elementum if you could?
I would dearly love to have the time and resources to create an audio-enhanced version of each edition for the visually impaired or for those who prefer to listen than read.

Where do you see Elementum in five years?
Nothing would make me happier than to see the continued steady and organic growth of the journal. My feeling is that Elementum as a brand has a lot of potential and I’m not short of ideas! There’s also a growing awareness, thankfully, of the importance of supporting businesses which are founded on harm-free ethics and pursue sustainable growth but it’s up to us as business owners to ensure that this trust is not misplaced and the benefit of any growth with ultimately will benefit the communities we live in and work with. This is my goal – for the journal to contribute to growing a successful business in order for that business to contribute to the success of others.




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