Margaret Meets: Ollie Olanipekun CEO of Flock Together


For anyone that may not be familiar with Flock Together, how did it come about?

Flock Together was an idea I’d been wanting to release for a long time, as I’ve spent my career working to empower communities and individuals. With Flock, I managed to find a way to share a personal passion for bird watching with my extended community. Then in 2020, after meeting another bird enthusiast – Nadeem, I knew it was the right time to bring the idea to life. We’ve since grown from a birding community to a global nature movement.


In a world of so many distractions, phones and devices, what do you do to have a break from social media other than being outdoors?  

I’m a big fan of the arts, whether that’s film, theatre or exhibitions. My brain needs a lot of stimulation so I try to regularly find experiences that will inspire me.


And is part of your mission to target those who are so consumed by technology and therefore distant from nature? And if so, how do you reach them and do this? 

I don’t subscribe to the narrative that “technology is bad”, I’m a big believer in working with the tools we’re afforded but being conscious with our usage. Flock wouldn’t exist without Instagram, it’s been essential in showcasing our community and reaching new audiences. Technology can be used to bring us closer to nature if it’s done in the right way.


What do you think it is about Flock Together that feels so new, exciting and revolutionary to other brands and your audience? 

It’s organic and authentic. These are buzzwords for the industry, but I can’t operate without truly being authentic in my approach. I’ve spent my career helping global brands reach new consumers, and it’s always been a frustration that the work is always temporary. To truly engage with an audience there needs to be a long-term commitment, and the brand cannot see it as a seasonal or campaign-only relationship. Once you’re truly seen to be authentic then your audience will grow naturally and stay committed to your cause. Brands have lost their way so much that seeing Flock’s approach seems revolutionary, but in reality, it’s very simple.


Are there any elements of the Flock Together experience that you try to bring back to your everyday life in the city? Or that you’d encourage others to?

Being present. As I mentioned earlier, I have a very overactive mind because of my ADHD. Even though I’ve been able to turn this into my superpower, I still rely on nature to force myself to be still and present. When you’re present your brain is free to gain perspective, be inspired and explore without distraction.


We have seen more and more brands work focusing on naturalistic elements and the environment through their campaigns. What recent campaigns have really inspired you and why?

If I’m honest, I haven’t seen anything inspiring from brands, the majority of it feels quite traditional when framing nature. And it was the traditional approach that left a lot of us feeling excluded. I’m looking for brands that want to break the mould and do something radical. 


As Flock Together grows, what are some things that are really important in choosing who you work with? 

We need to see partners who are committed for the right reasons and not afraid to take risks. For the work we do to have an impact, we need a completely new approach. I love brands that are not afraid of being uncomfortable. As Flock grows, we continue to unpack the reasons why so many people felt like nature wasn’t for them, only by addressing these issues can we find solutions.


What’s next for you and Flock Together? Where might you like to be in 5 years’ time?

I’m really focused on designing new access points to introduce new people to nature. By access points I mean creativity, this can show up in many different ways, from initiatives, events, or even products. We have a few in the pipeline which I can’t talk about just yet, but there are two I’m very excited about which are close to my heart. 


FlagFinders is a nationwide programme offering under-supported young children the chance to connect with nature through innovative ways. My experience with the Cub Scouts wasn’t great as a 10-year-old, so I’ve always been keen to offer something new and exciting. We have really big ambitions for FlagFinders. Another one just launched, New Nature is an open invitation for us all to understand the new ways in which we can connect with nature on a personal level. 


Through these initiatives, we’re using creativity for problem-solving because what I’ve learned over my career is that we need different messages to reach different people. 


None of these initiatives, though, would be possible without the incredible work of my team at my creative agency Futurimpose.


Are there any other organisations or people working in this area that we should check out? Or that you’d love to collaborate with?

All of the grassroots organisations who are just doing it for themselves in creative ways.

Cultural Wildlife



This month we are sowing some cultural seeds inspired by Earth Day with our pick of projects that connect with, reflect on or take you out into the natural world.


Berg – film release

The first feature film by filmmaker Joke Olthaar, Berg follows the stories of the stones, rocks and peaks of a vast mountain landscape. Stark black and white images and a minimalistic ambient soundtrack draw the viewer into a vibrant, cinematic experience as we experience first-hand the overwhelming power of nature and the insignificance of man within it.


Mike Nelson – ‘Extinction Beckons’

This retrospective of work by Matt’s Gallery artist Mike Nelson gives ‘immersive‘ a whole other meaning with his series of maze-like, dystopian installations that have currently taken over the Hayward Gallery. Look out for the Hayward’s next show, ‘Dear Earth: Art and Hope in a Time of Crisis’ which opens on 21 June.


Plastic Free July international billboard exhibition

Le Good Society is bringing together artists to take a stand against plastic pollution and encourage one and all to reduce their plastic usage this Plastic Free July. Exhibited outdoors on billboards across the UK, The Netherlands, Denmark and New York’s Times Square and online in the Hedera Gallery – a 3D virtual gallery space – the works featured in the exhibition are also all to be auctioned off in support of Ocean Global.


Right of Way: Screening + Panel with Flock Together & Athene Club

This film season from the Independent Cinema Office, which we’ve been managing the publicity for, takes a youth culture angle in this special screening and event with Flock Together’s Ollie Olanipekun, Athene club founder Zaineb Albeque and Right of Way artist Dan Guthrie, who will be in conversation with Margaret friend Nina Mandahar at Central Saint Martins on Granary Square on 29 April

Tickets are available here.


Animals: Art, Science & Sound – British Library from 21 April 

Humans have travelled across deserts and rainforests, deep into the oceans, and up in the skies to understand them. Now, in this major new exhibition at the British Library, you can see how documenting the animal world has resulted in some of humankind’s most awe-inspiring art, science and sound recordings, from centuries-old manuscripts to artworks.


Private and Public: Finding the Modern British Garden – Garden Museum until 4 June

A Margaret favourite, the Garden Museum’s current exhibition looks at the interwar period in Britain, which saw a flowering of artists who retreated to planting and painting in their gardens and others who engaged with public green spaces amidst a growing interest in recreation. From fireworks and fairgrounds to picnics and parties, their works captured a new, modern experience of spending leisure time in nature.



Day Trips and Nature Breaks

On the edges of the big smoke and beyond, the UK plays host to dozens of arts and culture experiences embedded in the natural world. Amongst other favourites include The Line sculpture trail in East London, Invisible Dust’s wonderful Wild Eye project along the North Yorkshire coast which features newly commissioned sculptures by Ryan Gander and Juneau Projects; the glorious Henry Moore Foundation in Hertfordshire; Fulmer Contemporary Sculpture (reopening in May); as well as more familiar gems such as Hauser & Wirth Somerset and Bloomsbury haven, Charleston, in Sussex.

Team Trip to Grow

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.


A few weeks back we visited our friends at GROW to help out on the farm. To make up for our delay in getting around to this we picked a high wind and heavy rain day when only the most committed of people would be out braving the weather…


Donning wellies and head-to-toe waterproofs we were soon put to work digging a trench for a new hedgerow and had the wettest but most brilliant of days. To find out more about GROW and how you can get involved visit…


Margaret Morning: ‘The Future of Travel’


On a Monday morning last month, together with Secret Trips, we welcomed a packed room to the London EDITION hotel to hear about the ‘Future of Travel’. This was according to our expert panel consisting of Juliet Kinsman (Sustainability writer, editor and broadcaster), Clare Lusher (Marketing Director, Birch) and Yaya & Lloyd (Content creators, Hand Luggage Only) who were hosted by David Annand (Editorial Director, Secret Trips).


On Our Stereo



Curated by British Underground/Future Art & Culture’s own Crispin Parry, a playlist inspired by the best of SXSW 2023. From some of the UK’s most exciting new talent to Crispin’s new favourite Brooklyn Band, to the mega-hit from Daisy Jones & the Six (whose panel discussion we were sad to miss in Austin).


Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons, A Portal to a Very Human Hell


An installation which puts all of humanity into perspective.” – Kia Kiasuka-Kiakanda


Mike Nelson is a cultivator of psychological environments referencing cultural and political failings. His installations – a pocket mirror to society – magnify hideous and overlooked truths, serving to unsettle and overwhelm as they force us to truly look at our reality of a rapidly deteriorating society. He indulges that pocket within the human imagination which makes out the silhouette of a monster from the shadow of a hanger pointed at an angle. That is to say, he draws on the fears shared by humankind through manipulating materials to hold semblance to a reality or an idea we cower from (even in adulthood). 


The unsettling visit into this dystopian world begins at the point of entry. The first installation is made up of sixteen rooms, some with a number of doors, as if presenting a multitude of perspectives, reckoning with disaster from every angle. Each room is a unique but equally devastating situation, worn down as if housed by previous occupants.  The level of discomfort ripens throughout the experience: first as you enter, catching sight of the yellowing ceiling fans collecting dust and doing nothing to ease the sweltering warmth, then traversing the different rooms, more objects come into view that add to the sense of unease. 


There is no explanation for the situations you are walking into. There is only evidence that there was once life here. Nelson offers the bones of a story, knowing that your mind will fill in the blanks. Everything appears splintered off from an absolute whole; the call which started but never really ended as the telephone was never returned to the latch, the cigarette beside it which had begun to be used but was deserted and violently stubbed out. This fractured experience speaks to Nelson’s point of civil ruin, mankind surviving a broken world, with only parts of what we need to maintain our humanity. Walking among the parts of this material story, I found that I was delving for some kind of sign that didn’t read as a warning –essentially looking for a nugget of hope but finding none.


In this way, Nelson makes you an active part of his conceptualisation, making you an observer of the world’s undoing and utterly useless to the fact. He creates a portal to a very human hell, all for the sake of putting humanity into perspective.


By the second installation, we settle into the understanding that this parallel universe has consumed the one of old. The temperament has not changed nor relaxed despite the different setting. We enter a space which is a life-size rendition of a stilled and deserted barn, buried under a landfill of sand spilling and smothering almost everything entirely. 


There is no way of telling where the spill begins, just that it has now submerged everything. This idea of a thing having no obvious beginning or end, no one part we can point fingers at and lay blame on as the definite cause, speaks to a larger principle at work here.


Teetering around the edge of where the pile begins, you can’t help but get the sense that we were this close to being buried alive, that we have lived to witness our narrow escape. This installation shares that consuming feeling of claustrophobia with the one before it. You find yourself swallowed by an experience that demands to be felt rather than just witnessed in an off-hand, roundabout way. Largely because of the manufacturing of the inaccessible space, dictating that we should hold ourselves at an angle and remain in physical contortion throughout much of the visit.


For so much of the journey into these spaces, there is no letting up, the discomfort does not stop at the level of physical ailment but is instead the entire ordeal. 


 Again, we find ourselves in a space where every component and detail functions only to bring about a sordid level of malaise. Mike Nelson continues to push the core message that there is little more than a hair separating us from being on the other side of that question – “What if the world goes to shit with us in it?”


Even with the use of materials and objects so distant from our day-to-day reality, there remains an idea behind them, or a concept projected onto them that speaks to the human experience of feeling hopeless, afraid, or uncertain. We have all been – in some capacity – in each of those worlds he has materially conceptualised. Nelson makes apparent that the unity of our humanity lies in the commonality of our fears – what a place to be united, if none other. His brilliant and unnerving conceptual world might be an unsettling experience, but one that at the same time feels vital and carries a powerful message. A must-see experience!