Chalk Dreams

Created with people of all ages from across Abbey Ward in Cambridge and CCI artists during 2022, Chalk Dreams was a celebration of the local chalk stream, Coldham’s Brook, and the creativity of everyone who contributed. 

Chalk streams are a precious but fragile part of our local landscape. They are compared to rainforests in terms of their environmental significance and value and are incredibly rare across the world, with the majority of them (85%) found in the UK and many in the East of England. We are incredibly lucky to have one in the heart of this community, running through Coldham’s Common on the eastern edge of the city. 

  • I am fast and slow
    I am so glad that I am near
    I am glad of myself
    I am always here

    Amelia (7)

  • I found the vagus nerve explanation beautiful and with my eyes closed imagined it as my own chalk stream running through and soothing my body.  It gave a feeling of euphoria and freedom, a drug-free trip. 

    Patients and staff of The Dialysis Unit

Children from Galfrid School visit the Chalk Stream
Children in Abbey Ward summer camp join Chalk Dreams
Children from Galfrid School visit the Chalk Stream

People of all ages joined in with 16 different creative workshops run by CCI artists Filipa Pereira Stubbs, Sally Todd and Hilary Cox Condron. Nearly 200 people were involved. Artwork from these has been incorporated into the Fantastical Forest, CCI’s ongoing celebration of creativity, community and nature, in the form of 24 exquisite muslin hangings designed by Sally and Hilary. It has also finally been used to create new signage designed by Hilary for Abbey People’s offices unveiled on the 23 March, 2023, the UN International Day of Happiness . Nicky Shepard, CEO commented, “we are really pleased to be hosting this artwork going forward, and have enjoyed seeing how the community’s creativity has been applied to the project. It is lovely to have some new artwork to brighten up Barnwell Road.”

Artist Filipa Pereira Stubbs created a special soundscape for patients and staff of The Dialysis Unit, located in the ward and with Coldham’s Brook flowing nearby. This is free to access on the CCI website. 

Children in Abbey Ward summer camp join Chalk Dreams
Childen in abbey ward summer camp join Chalk Dreams
Abbey People coffee morning joins Chalk Dreams

We were delighted to have also been able to share the artwork and the wider conservation work undertaken on the chalk stream by Abbey People as part of a display at the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology from November 2022 to March 2023. 

Ruth Sapsed, Director of Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination, commented: “We work with communities to re-imagine the world just outside their doors. They are able see these spaces afresh through these creative experiences, as places of wonder and joy that need loving and caring for. It was such a privilege to be able to connect so many different people in Abbey ward during 2022 to the precious chalk stream that runs through their community. To now see their work celebrated on the front of these offices is the perfect conclusion to the project. We hope it will bring a smile to everyone’s face”.

Abbey Ward Big Lunch welcoming familes to Chalk Dreams
A poem about the Chalk Stream
Abbey People Big Lunch welcoming families to Chalk Dreams

These streams are suffering from over extraction and pollution, and need our help. To get involved with conservation and campaigning you can:

This public art project was funded by a Cambridge City Council S106 Grant.