Fantastical Cambridgeshire

Ariel view of beatle by Maciek Platek
Fantastical Offords Community Day Image by: photographer and film-maker Maciek Platek

A gloriously ambitious long-term project about this county connecting people of all ages, their local area, adventuring and culture.  

Beginning in schools, we creatively adventure with young children and their teachers to share discovery of real, local spaces in extraordinary, enchanting and intriguing ways.  The children’s families and the wider community are also invited to encounter and add to the children’s discoveries at our community events. Fantastical Maps are created for each community, drawn from the conversations and creative work generated by the adventuring. These invite people of all ages to re-imagine each local space and the possibilities it offers. Our first of these maps was created for Spinney Wild Woods.

To extend these connections further we are inviting wild exchanges with others outside of each project.  Particular images, words and ideas from the children’s work are offered to other adults -  artists, architects, engineers, botanists, biologists, experts and enthusiasts of all kinds - as source material for new work and as prompts to remember their own fascinations.  Recent collaborations with writers Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Kay have begun this process. Through these ‘conversations’ we see our fantastical map of the county grow in unexpected ways, as each location becomes connected further and wider in the world.  And we continue to advocate for a fundamental right of children – to be recognised as makers as well as receivers of the creative culture around them.
Fantastical Cambridgeshire is currently focused on communities in the St Neots area and you can read more about the individual projects here:

Fantastical Cambridgeshire Logo a drawing of a fantastical red lizard with spines like creature

Eynesbury Primary School
Offord Primary School
The Round House Primary Academy

Artists working on the projects include: Elena Arevalo Melville, Helen Stratford, Filipa Pereira-Stubbs, Sally Todd, and Deb Wilenski.

The work is supported by Arts Council England and our partners and advisors include Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Culture, the Ernest Cook Trust, University of Cambridge and Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

Producing the first Fantastical Days


Colourful to-do list(by Helen Stratford, CCI artist) It has been an amazing experience producing the first Fantastical Day. I have been meeting and talking to numerous interested experts and specialists in and around Eynesbury and St Neots since May. These conversations have actively shaped the exciting activities that will take place in and around Eynesbury School; all centring around the creation of a new fantastical map over 24 hours.

The day takes as it’s starting point child-led activities including the active making, writing and walking that CCI artists Filipa Pereira Stubbs and Sally Todd have been exploring with the school. Drop in map stations including One-minute maps, Reference, Collage, Colour, Words as Materials and Building with Maps, will take work already completed by the children as inspiration for the wider community to help create the giant map itself that will evolve in the school playground.

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and get familiar with the excellent work of St Neots Artists – Neotists – Melina Lafirenze, Claire & Richard Slade and Tracy Mowat who will lead activities including Phantastic Philosophical Doodling: an enquiry into identity and belonging with chalks, Found Mapping and make your own Fantastical Exploration Kit, extending the mapping area from the school grounds to the Market square.

Spending time in St Neots Museum offered a tantalising glimpse of the intriguing history the town has to tell. The Museum will set up home for the day in the school hall (otherwise known as basecamp) using it as a base from which to lead Extraordinary Stories Walks and offer a Mystery Object Table where Curator Liz Davies and Learning Officer, Lesley Sainsbury, will be joined by local museum volunteers to identify Found Photographs/ objects. The Extraordinary Stories Walks will include excursions into St Mary’s Church where Reverend Debbie Noonan will be on hand to answer questions and where an exhibition of children’s work produced over the residency will be on display.

This incredible range of activities will be supported by CCI artists including Deb Wilenski who will run Wild Exchanges from Collecting Cabinets and illustrator Elena Arévalo Melville who will be gathering stories, memories and images from the day that will feed into the final Fantastical Map of Eynesbury.

Our links with Cambridge Conservation Initiative also introduced us to the extraordinary work of bio-accoustic specialist William Seale who is helping us create a soundscape of the sounds you don’t notice around you everyday –  such as in a stream, under the water of a river, or bats flying at night.

AND the list of activities, supporters and contributors continues to grow! For an up to date programme and times for bookable events please click here.

It promises to be a fantastically inspiring day!

Created by Lucas


White line drawing of Lucas' fantastic creature

Lucas (6) drew the fantastical creature that clutches hold of our logo for Fantastical Cambrigeshire. He is in year 1 at Eynesbury Primary School and on his first day with artists Filipa and Sally was invited to think where an adventure might happen. He went straight out onto the playground and began to draw. We love how this creature has come from his imagination in response to seeing his everyday space in a new way.

Illustrator Elena Arévalo Melville created the logo for the project by looking through all the extraordinary documentation our work with Eynesbury has already collected. For her this one ‘just stood out’, although she was amazed at the many strong images she found there, many of which we hope will find their way onto the Fantastical Map she will be creating for Eynesbury School.


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