Details of both our current and recent events and workshops:
Lost Words for Cambridgeshire
We’re losing nature as well as the names for nature - Robert MacFarlane
NEWS UPDATE - a copy for each primary school in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough was made available in 2018 thanks to the generous donations of so many individuals and support from The Francis and Maisie Pryor Charitable Trust. The campaign is now closed. Copies were shared at meetings and gatherings across the region. The final opportunity to request a copy was the Cambridgeshire Primary Headteacher’s Conference at Huntingdon Racecourse on November 22nd. Here is a list of the schools covered by the campaign. Final copies will be shared with these schools during January 2019.
Posters of this unique otter print created for the Cambridgeshire campaign are available here - all funds support the Lost Words campaign.
CCI has been campaigning to get Cambridgeshire children back to nature by getting a copy of The Lost Words book into every Primary School in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, as well as bespoke inspiring activities that creatively connect children with the outdoors. Launched in spring 2018, the campaign clearly touched a nerve and we are hugely grateful for the support it received.
Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI) creatively connects children with their local landscapes through real and imaginary adventures. The Lost Words, written by Robert MacFarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris, is a gorgeously illustrated book that conjures lost words and species back into our everyday lives. Together we want to (re)connect children with the wondrous free natural opportunities that exist on their doorsteps.
Why do we all need nature in our lives?
The Lost Words at Cambridge Literary Festival
At the Cambridge Literary Festival, on the 14th April, Jackie Morris (illustrator of The Lost Words book) live-painted an otter, using Japanese ink and water drawn by Robert MacFarlane from the chalk springs at Nine Wells in south Cambridge. Robert hand-wrote the 'Otter Spell' from The Lost Words onto this too.
This artwork, created with wild water and sumi ink, pencil and gold leaf is unique. It is signed by both Jackie and Robert and has been auctioned, with all proceeds going to The Lost Words for Cambridgeshire campaign bidding has now closed.
Discover more about the creation of this artwork here in the comments section on Jackie's website.
Posters of the painting are also available to order from the CCI shop.
I have lived in Cambridge for nearly 25 years now, and all three of my children have been to our local state primary school. Jackie and I have been moved and amazed over the past six months by the energy and generosity with which many people around the country have campaigned to get copies of The Lost Words into every primary school in their borough, county or country, in an effort to green the classrooms of our children. Now a campaign has come to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. I am so glad that it is happening, and grateful to those who are bringing it about, in the hope that it might help close the gap a little between childhood and nature in our region. Robert Macfarlane
We are running this campaign so that all Cambridgeshire children can benefit from Robert’s magical words, Jackie’s inspirational art and CCI’s expertise in creatively connecting children with nature. We all need nature in our lives.
The evidence about what happens to us, to our children, if we are not connecting with nature is alarming. In addition to this, children’s freedoms, both physical and emotional are continuously being eroded. Troubling statistics are everywhere yet successive governments pursue ever-narrower policies. It is more critical than ever that we get this inspiring book and accompanying support into schools across our county:
- ‘Nature deficit disorder’ is now a widely-used term and children’s roaming areas have decreased by 90% in the last 30 years.
- 1 in ten children now suffer from mental health difficulties severe enough to require treatment – at least three children in every classroom.
- The arts are rapidly becoming only for the most privileged with just 8% of the “wealthiest, whitest and most formally educated” proportion of the population making the greatest regular use of Arts Council funded organisations.
- Access to arts and culture has significant social impact: people who take part in the arts are 38% more likely to report good health; and students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school are 20% more likely to vote as young adults, twice as likely to volunteer, and three times more likely to get a degree
- New research commissioned by Fabian Think-tank talks of ‘deeply shocking landscape of diminishing arts provision in primary schools’ (2018)
- Parts of the county are some of the worst in the UK for social mobility (Social Mobility Commission 2016) with Cambridge itself described as a ‘social mobility cold spot’
- Cambridge identified as the least equal city in UK for second year in row (Centre for Cities 2018)
This magical book was created to celebrate and revive once-common “nature” words – from acorn and wren, to Conker and dandelion – dropped from the Oxford Junior Dictionary (and replaced by words like broadband and blog). It is a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke. With acrostic spell-poems by award-winning writer Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustration by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the magic of language and nature for all ages. The book has been described as a "cultural phenomenon" by The Guardian, for the speed with which it and its ideas have taken root in classrooms and homes across Britain since its publication in October.
The Lost Words is a brilliant catalyst for new conversations with schools about these essentials rights and freedoms for children - to explore, to imagine, to be creative and to connect with their local landscapes. You can hear more about the story of The Lost Words here:
And you can hear Robert Macfarlane talking about these issues and The Lost Words here:
BBC News Night
These bespoke resources have been produced by the John Muir Trust:
Penguin have now also produced 12 different 'challenge cards' packed with inviting ways to work with the ideas in the book. These can be found here.
CCI are Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination. We creatively connect children with their local surroundings in order to develop:
- children’s capabilities to care about themselves, each other and the world around them
- curious citizens with powerful imaginations
We work to explore the rich landscape of wild imagination and to stop wild play rapidly fading from our children's minds. This affects everyone – our children, ourselves and the world we are living in. We can’t care for a world we are not connected to.
CCI is all about empowering and encouraging young people to express themselves and to explore. This is so important - that exploration of themselves and the world around them - as the citizens of the future.
Amanda Askham, Head of Transformation, Cambridgeshire County Council, October 2016
CCI has been working closely with schools across the region to open up spaces for imagination and curiosity, to connect people of all ages with all that is fantastical on their doorsteps and reignite their capacities to have ideas and act on them. Resources informed by this work are available from the CCI shop, in particular our Wild Exchange Games - a collection of playful games for 'people of any age to play anywhere'. Find out more about our Fantastical Cambridgeshire programme.
Wild exploring – a CCI game in Aquila Magazine
The February edition of this unique magazine for children – described as ‘an intelligent read for inquisitive kids’ - explores happiness. We were delighted when the editor invited us to share an invitation to create your own fantastical map.
Read more about the magazine here.
Readers can also take advantage of our 50% off special offer and purchase their own set of Wild Exchange games for just £7.50.
I can create – Workshop delegate, January 2020
Artist Sally Todd led workshops at Brent’s Inspiring Creativity, Celebrating Culture 2020 Conference for Early Years Educators. Four wonderful groups joined us over the two days, spending time working with materials and invitations to explore their own creativity:
We invited the participants to explore the extraordinary architectural spaces of the Brent Civic Centre, working alongside a new colleague. We gave them mirrors to place around the building to propose different ways of looking, and encouraged them to draw the reflected images, shapes and patterns of the unexpected view points.
Back in the room, a selection of everyday objects was offered as a prompt to respond to in any way the participants chose. We invited them to consider the object’s function and then reinvent the piece through story and visual representation. Materials provided to experiment with included paper, theatre gels, wire, string, ink and pastel. We also invited them to consider using a prompt from an earlier CCI project with children, exploring through the eyes of another…such as a mouse…or a caveman archer.
We heard how they relished this time to try out new ways of working and reflect on their own settings:
I felt like a child engrossed in their project…I felt like everything around us can be inspirational….it was fantastic to move around…the workshop made me think how I need to stop and breathe.
The workshop made me want to…explore, create, give time to myself…think about how to use ordinary objects in different ways….become more adventurous in creating away from the computer.
It was fascinating to watch each group engage with the building, each other, and this collection of everyday objects and limited materials. Each time we celebrated the individuality of responses and the brilliant conversations prompted by these ways of exploring and making and thinking.
Creativity as Pratice
A professional development programme for early career Artist Educators
We have now offered the four places for early career Artist Educators for our new professional development programme developed in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University, Goldsmiths University & Kettle’s Yard. We are delighted to be working wtih Fay Jones, Lauren Wilson, Seana Wilson and Tonka Uzu.
This programme has been designed to nurture new talent. It was developed in recognition of the need to equip early career Artist Educators with access to appropriate development routes and ensure relevant and timely support and opportunities. It will be run alongside CCI’s schools programme in spring/summer 2020.
The programme offers:
- two training days led by CCI and Esther Sayers (Goldsmiths University) at Kettle’s Yard
- one day of research training led by Nicola Walshe, ARU, as part of the ARU Eco-capabilities research
- an assistant Artist Educator role on an 8 day school based project with final project celebration day in Anglia Ruskin University
- mentoring support throughout above from experienced CCI Artist Educator
- the opportunity to join our supportive network with potential to work as a CCI Artist Educator in future.
Applications closed on Wednesday 1st January, 2020.
This programme is supported by Arts Council England.
National Poetry Day 2019
The poems Welcome and Little One were written especially for the Addenbrooke’s community in 2017 by poet Kaddy Benyon as part of Taking Note: Poetry in moments. They were unveiled as permanent fixtures of the Addenbooke’s Arts Walk on National Poetry Day this year (3rd October), to be enjoyed every day by patients, staff and visitors on their journeys through the hospital.
Welcome is a ‘found poem’; poet Kaddy Benyon took phrases from 46 of the Taking Note stories to create it - the photo below captures the moment that Rosie and Alasdair identified theirs. Read here for text version.
These poems are part of the new collection specially commissioned for the hospital community, written by Jo Shapcott (winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal, 2011, and the Costa Book Award, 2010) and Cambridge based poets Kaddy Benyon, Eve Lacey and Rebecca Watts, who spent autumn 2017 engaging with patients, visitors and staff. The collection can be read here.
I wish I were well and strong, so that I could give these poems the concentrated attention that they are serious enough to deserve. But I suppose the whole point about being unwell is that one is not in one's best form as a critic. Nevertheless I can tell that these poems are serious, and they've certainly got a serious subject. The subject is life, and how it might be lost; and how it might be saved. There is brave and tender hope here; but, even deeper down, the thrill of being human. Clive James
Taking Note was supported by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, Awards for All and the Cambridgeshire Community Fund.
The Art of Reading
A huge temporary public artwork was created by more than 400 children from Milton Road Primary School with artist Patsy Rathbone. It was unveiled in early July 2018 and transformed a 50 metre stretch of builders’ hoardings around the site of the new Milton Road Library whilst it was under construction. The panels were taken down in April 2019 and gifted to the school to enhance some of their corridors. Elements of the design are also now incorporated into the new library, opened in June 2019.
The display was the end result of a community art project called The Art of Reading and was produced by a group of volunteers led by Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination director and local resident Ruth Sapsed, a member of the Friends of Milton Road Library, working in collaboration with community activist Ysanne Austin, artist Jo Tunmer and producer Nicky Webb.
Every child in the school took part in a day’s activities exploring the joy of reading, talking about and drawing their favourite reading places and reading companions. The finished artwork featured reading in all sorts of fantastical places and in all sorts of situations: on the moon, on top of a volcano, in a dinosaur’s mouth, on a reading train. Hundreds of enchanting details were included and explored by passers-by. The artwork is now being incorporated into the new designs for the interior.
The project was made possible with support from Cambridge City Council, Coulson (the developers), a group of local trusts and businesses and more than 70 individuals who contributed via a Crowdfunding campaign.
Ruth volunteered her time saying I love libraries. They offered me sanctuary and inspiration as a child and when I was raising my daughters. Now I understand how valuable they are as community spaces too. Einstein said ‘the only thing you have to know is the location of the library’. He also said that imagination is more important than knowledge as knowledge is limited but imagination encircles the world. This celebration of a library and reading and brilliant imaginations was at the heart of our community for many months at least, and gave joy to many many people.