About CCI

Our patrons:

Robert Macfarlane

I'm so proud to be a patron of CCI. Curiosity, landscape, imagination, creativity, childhood, wildness - the organisation's passions and values could hardly be more important or inspiring right now. Every one of its projects makes me see things strangely again, tips a little more wonder back into the world.
Robert Macfarlane

Michael Morpurgo

I believe profoundly that everyone has a story to tell, a song to sing. I'm all for empowering children and young people to have their own words especially when they are young. Encouraging young people to believe in themselves and find their own voice whether it's through writing, drama or art is so important in giving young people a sense of self-worth. There are so many young people who don't believe in themselves and their mentality gets fixed in failure.
Michael Morpurgo (Guardian, 2012)

CCI is a creative organisation that works to inspire and enrich communities, to support them 'to believe in themselves and find their own voice'. We design ways for people of all ages to develop their own curiosity and imagination by inviting them into playful environments, both indoors and outdoors, and giving them the permission to explore.

Why work with us?

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. Albert Einstein

CCI are dedicated

For many of us now there is an increasing dislocation from our creative selves, both personal and professional, and the world around us.  We may have forgotten how to play, or lost faith in our capacities to have ideas and take the lead.  Sometimes we are fearful of taking risks and venturing into the unknown. CCI’s work addresses this.

-       Work with educators to remind them of children’s creative powers and how to support them

-       Explore alongside children and families to build creative connections and confidence

-       Develop creative practices in professional groups

-       Validate the learning experiences with our Arts Award programmes

-       Reconnect communities with their local outdoor spaces 

-       Create resources that celebrate and share the work

We assert the need to emphasise the intrinsic value of exciting children’s imagination. To experience the delights – and pains – of imagining, and of entering the imaginative world of others, is to become a more rounded person. Cambridge Primary Review, 2009

How CCI works

CCI Threads

Our work is developed to suit each partnership and can draw on elements of: supported projects, creative workshops, professional development sessions and  resource development. Whilst we welcome straight commissions, we can also work with partners to identify sources of funding and strategies for working collaboratively with multiple partners. Contact us here to discuss a potential partnership.

CCI also raises funds through donations and sales of our publications and prints (available via our shop).

We work with the public, private and voluntary sectors and with people of all ages and from all backgrounds in very diverse settings (in galleries, museums, woodlands, hospitals, Universities and FE colleges, schools, nurseries, groups with special educational needs, with property developers and even our local waste management centre!).  We have developed close links with colleagues at Anglia Ruskin University and at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education through programmes of joint research and professional development workshops and courses for both educators and artists. A full list of our partners and funders is here.

CCI was a winner in the Business Excellence Awards 2020 when they were given the BioMed Reality Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Watch here for a short film of Director Ruth Sapsed and co-headteacher Paula Ayliffe discussing why the work was important for the awards ceremony. Also in 2020, CCI and Kiss Communications were delighted to win the Best Corporate Partnership, a National Arts Fundraising School Emcee Award.

Thinking about our work

We are continuously seeking to understand (and challenge commonly held notions of)  what it means to be creative, where creative experiences can happen and how creative practice can be understood. Further details on current research is here

Our short film The Inspirers, was made for the 2016 International Women’s Day Event in Homerton College, University of Cambridge, and celebrates just a few of the creative women and girls we have met in our work.

What people say

It’s such important work. Our teachers have to be bubbling with creativity, else our children won’t be. Simple. Michael Morpurgo, CCI Patron

The creative experiences that make up CCI’s programmes have been repeatedly demonstrated through evaluations and research to offer opportunities to build the skills, confidence and self-esteem of those we work with.  Here are some examples of what people have said about our work.

How CCI began

Idit Nathan, a Cambridge based artist, founded 'The Cambridge Centre for Curiosity and Imagination' in 1998,  drawing together a network of artists, practitioners and researchers interested in creativity.  Idit identified the potential for community and education projects to be enriched through collaboration with artists.  Artists Sally Todd, Filipa Pereira-Stubbs and Susanne Jasilek were also co-founders, as was Ruth Sapsed, who took over as the coordinator in 2005, and together they worked with colleagues to constitute what had become Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI) as a charity in 2007.

CCI's pilot project 'Light, Shadows, Mirrors' led by Idit with Anna Townley and Issam Kourbaj was at Colleges Nursery in 2002, and Sally Todd was the first artist in residence at Colleges Nursery from 2003 -2005. In 2004 CCI worked with Robin Duckett from Sightlines Initiative and Vicky Lant from the local authority to bring the influential exhibition from Reggio - 100 Languages of Children - to the city. Over 2,000 people visited and its impact on the work of CCI continues.  

The strength of CCI lies in the collaboration between all CCI colleagues.  Other artists and colleagues who played key roles in the early projects and forming of CCI include: Sue Bainbridge, Mary Jane Drummond, Jo Holland, Sharon Honig, Karl Foster, Issam Kourbaj, Martina Gecelli, Anne-Mie Melis, Mandy Swann, Helen Taylor and Townley and Bradby.

We are also grateful to Bridget Cusack, Andrew Jones, Damian Hebron, and Pamela Burnard who have all been dedicated trustees in the past.

The Team

Ruth Sapsed, Director
Neil Parker, Office Manager
Jo Diver, Finance Manager

Read more about the team, the artists we currently work with, our Trustees and Associates:

  • Alfie Carpenter

  • Amanda Morris Drake

  • Caroline Wendling

  • Christine Doddington

  • David Whitley

  • Deb Wilenski

  • Debbie Hall

  • Elena Arévalo Melville

  • Elisabeth Walmsley

  • Elsa Lee

  • Esther Sayers

  • Filipa Pereira-Stubbs

  • Helen Stratford

  • Hilary Cox Condron

  • Jo Diver

  • Karen Thomas

  • Karin Horowitz

  • Kevin Jones

  • Lucy Wheeler

  • Mandy Swann

  • Mary Jane Drummond

  • Michael Corley

  • Neil Parker

  • Nicola Walshe

  • Owen Garling

  • Richard Mclean

  • Ruth Sapsed

  • Sally Todd

  • Sharon Honig

  • Susanne Jasilek

  • Tonka Uzu