Details of both our current and recent events and workshops:
Creative Care: Double your donation
Help us support vulnerable children and their families this Autumn and Winter
From today, for two weeks, every donation you give to CCI will be doubled by Localgiving Foundation.
STAGE 1: From Tuesday 27 October until Tuesday 3 November you can have your donation matched up to £75.
STAGE 2: From Tuesday 3 November until midday on Tuesday 9 November you can have your donation matched up to £5,000.
Your donation will support children and families in our local communities through our Creative Care programme.
This initiative was devised and launched in May in response to COVID-19 and lockdown. Developed by our extraordinary artists, Creative Care packages consist of invitations, materials and resources to support people of all ages to be creative at home and rediscover the world on their doorsteps. In partnership with a range of organisations 357 packs, so far, have been distributed across Cambridge and surrounding villages.
With winter approaching, and further restrictions likely, we want to support even more people and families across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. But we need your help.
It costs £15 to make and deliver a Creative Care pack to people who need it most. Help us reach 200 families this autumn by donating now. Click on this link to our donation page.
Creative Care is a FullScope programme devised by CCI in partnership with Blue Smile and Arts and Minds. More information here.
Your donation, however large or small, will really make a difference. Thank you.
15 years on
We have been thinking about the 100 Languages of Children Exhibition, held at the Kaetsu Centre in Cambridge in summer 2004, and Enemies of Boredom, its subsequent evaluation. This was 15 years ago but it remains a significant milestone for our work as a charity. We still refer to it regularly, particularly when planning professional development opportunities for educators. We also continue to meet colleagues for whom it triggered pivotal thinking and shifts in practice.
During 2020 the world around us and particularly for our children has suddenly shifted to become dangerously fragile. Hard questions are being asked about the world we want our children and young people to grow up in and how their education should be structured to support this. Brilliantly children are leading the way on this and often we find ourselves watching in awe at their articulacy and passion. We’re thinking about how our work can come alongside them and support change? It’s making us ask what me mustn’t forget? What do we know already to be important for children and their communities? Asking these questions has taken us back to this exhibition and evaluation and what it set in motion for us.
But we’d love to hear what happened for others too. What seeds were sown 15 years ago and what has become of them? Invitation to reflect (2020) is a new initiative where we are inviting everyone who was part of these experiences – as visitors, artists, organisers or volunteers or even those who have been moved by the publication since - to contribute their reflections to a new collection. Susanne Jasilek, one of CCI’s founding artists and the designer of Enemies of Boredom has designed the invitation. It is offered as a prompt to help stir the memories and remind readers of events in this period. She created this wonderful ‘cyanotype’ inspired cow parsley for the invitation saying –
Cow parsley, growing, full of promise and seeds.
Prolific in Cambridge and subject to my filming over and over.
Startlingly magical, beautiful and full of breeze.
This seemed to symbolise perfectly the possibilities visited in the 100 Languages exhibition and ‘Enemies of Boredom’.
If you’d like to contribute, please sent an email to Ruth.
Winner of an EMCEE Award 2020
CCI & KISS Communications are honoured to have won Best Corporate Partnership, a National Arts Fundraising School Emcee award 2020. The exceptionally strong short-list included Bristol Museums and Milton Keynes International Festival but the judges felt our work with KISS represented a genuine partnership that was mutually beneficial to both parties.
On receiving the award Simon Fryer, CEO of Kiss said:
On behalf of our Managing Director Sarah Reakes and the whole KISS Communications team, we are delighted to win this award. Our long standing partnership with Cambridge Curiosity & Imagination aligns our values with the desire to create social change and we've seen first-hand the value of CCI’s creatively inspirational approach and the successful outcomes to the programmes they run, some of which the KISS Communications team have had the pleasure of taking part in. This award recognises the many people that have contributed to the success of our ongoing partnership. Thank you.
Bridget Cusack, a trustee of CCI added:
We’re passionate about building creative connections with the world around us, recognising the critical importance of nature for both us, our health and well-being, and for the future of the planet. I made the nomination for KISS, to recognise the incredible value of our corporate partnership in helping us realise our ambitions to get more people out being creative in nature.
CCI has worked closely with KISS since 2016 when they redesigned our website. Since then they have offered the charity invaluable support, all pro-bono, developing the brand and website for our new social enterprise of corporate away days A Day in the Woods.
Creative Care Programme
CCI worked with Arts and Minds and Blue Smile during lockdown as part of the FullScope consortia to launch and develop this new creative care programme. Fullscope, launched in October 2019, is a new collaboration between seven leading organisations that support the mental wellbeing of children and young people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The partnership, with support from the National Lottery Community Fund and development support from Arm Limited and Norfolk and Norwich Festival Bridge, champions, collaborates with and is inspired by the voices of children and young people, taking their lead in order to deliver its aims.
The focus of this new programme is to develop resources to support people of all ages to be creative at home. Where possible these are delivered as part of ‘creative care packs’ but they have also been made available for free to download or access on line. To date five artists have designed a series of 12 ‘invitations to create’ to help people rediscover the world on their doorsteps in creative ways. A series of films to support these have also been made.
Thank you for providing us with all the amazing ideas and different ways to keep our children’s brains stimulated. We followed your guidance and collected as many different objects of as many different colours inside and out. My children loved doing the finding and searching as much as they did the creating. Thanks for providing the packages - made my life a lot easier for a couple of days!! do you have anything else up your sleeve to help spark the curiosity. Mother, via Instagram
Love the focus on natural objects & play, think we all need both now more than ever.
Clare, Art Therapist
From April to June, CCI distributed these to vulnerable children and young people and their families within 357 individual packs, alongside specially chosen materials selected by the artists. These invitations encourage people to go out into the world around them, and reconnect with all their senses and with the pleasures of noticing, listening, making and shaping. Where possible online support has also been included - artists have joined Zoom classroom sessions (primary school partner) and WhatsApp weekly meetings (The Kite Trust group) as well as emails and phone-calls to encourage engagement and dialogue. Small films are also being developed to support each invitation and build connections with the artists.
It was a delight to drop the creative care boxes round this morning. The children were absolutely thrilled and their parents really grateful. It really worked I thought, as a way to connect and engage with those families. I was feeling in bit of dip yesterday, with worry and feeling a bit fed up with the situation and what might happen next, but that was just really nice. What a pleasure to see everyone this morning, to know they’re okay, and for them to know all these people are still thinking of them. I could literally see that on their faces. Thank you for putting all of these materials and ideas together. You are wonderful. Headteacher, Wilburton Primary School
Creative Care packages have been sent to some of our most vulnerable families and have proved to be a lifeline to those that are engaging with them. One family in particular, who currently have no access to a computer or tablet, have wholeheartedly embraced the invitations given to them and have rediscovered what it is like to engage with the nature surrounding the place they call home. Many hours have been spent creating and imagining images and inventions for life outside their bubble. Many, many thanks to all involved in bringing this opportunity to our community.
Headteacher, Mayfield Primary School
CCI is now working with Centre 33 and The Kite Trust to create versions of the creative care packs for young people and families approaching them for support.
To date the CCI has worked with Mayfield Primary School, The Kite Trust, Cambridge Academic Partnership, Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire Skills and Abbey Foodbank, and the Red Hen Project as part of this programme. Download here the executive summary of the evaluation of this stage of the programme.
FullScope has also been working with the wider sector to identify clearer pathways to support for everyone at this time – below are numbers and details for where support can be found.
For people aged 18 and over - Now we’re talking - coming together in isolation:
- Lifeline Plus - a mental health and wellbeing helpline for people aged 18 and over living in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, is available Monday-Friday between 9am and 2pm via freephone 0808 808 2121. The line will support people to manage their wellbeing, provide selfhelp advice or signpost to other organisations for particular concerns. Between 2pm and 11pm the number is managed by Lifecraft who provide support for those in mental health distress.
- Qwell - an online wellbeing support, including educational and self-help articles and peer-to peer support via forums. Adults are also able to receive help from qualified counsellors via drop in or scheduled online chat sessions.
- Keep Your Head – this website brings together all the mental health support available across the county.
For young people
Poems for our NHS
Hasn’t it been wonderful to see all the amazing ways people are showing their love and admiration of the NHS?
Below are specially recorded short messages of support together with a reading of their own poem about Addenbrooke’s from the three Cambridge based poets who were part of Taking Note: poetry in moments. Dr Mike More, Chair of Cambridge University Hospitals, reads Welcome, the found-poem Kaddy Benyon created from many of the original stories. Helen Taylor, poetry advisor, to the project has also contributed a message along with her reading of Jo Shapcott’s poem for the hospital The Patient. These are being shared on the staff Facebook page and social media as ‘breakfast poems’ every Monday over the next few weeks.
Eve Lacey reads Memory Bone
Rebecca Watts reads When all this is over
Kaddy Benyon reads Head to Head
Helen Taylor reads The Patient
Dr Mike More, Chair of Cambridge University Hospitals, reads Welcome by Kaddy Benyon
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 if 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; poetry in moments was a new collection of poetry created especially for the community of Addenbrooke’s, our local NHS hospital (and part of Cambridge University Hospitals). The full collection and stories from the project can be read here. Copes are also available in the CCI shop.
NHS Super Heroes
What does this term mean to you? It feels especially meaningful now as we see so many incredible staff working so hard to help people. Now there’s a chance for everyone to create their own picture of an NHS super hero and send it in as part of a new fundraiser for the hospital.
Our colleague Filipa who works with us and also at the hospital running their dance programme has recorded this short film to help you start:
We’ve loved seeing many NHS superheroes appear in work created by children and young people in projects we’ve run with the Arts programme over recent years. Artist Sally Todd remembers in particular the ‘wonderful drawings by children from St Philip’s Primary School in Cambridge as part of the Future Reactive project. They were thinking about all the people who’ve worked there both in the past, the present and even the future. Their drawings included nurses, doctors and many therapy dogs – who the children called ‘dogtors’. We were lucky enough to meet Dylan, one of the real ‘dogtors’ when we were putting up the exhibition.’
This special competition is being run by Ely-based food ingredients company Cambridge Commodities with Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust in support of the hospital. Details are here. There are four age groups and the deadline is 1 June with a special exhibition planned for later this year.
Free wild exchange games
Explore the fantastical – free games to play at home, in your garden, on your walks
CCI has been making fantastical maps of places with young children, their schools and their families in the Fantastical Cambridgeshire project. These celebrate the real and imaginary worlds around us, bringing together words and images and ideas we discover on our shared creative adventures and helping us see our worlds with new eyes.
The games we are sharing here – we call them wild exchange games - can help you to begin creating your own fantastical map. They can be played anywhere by anyone. You could start with just your bedroom or even under your bed or create one for your road or the park you are walking to. You don’t have to go far to discover the fantastical.
You will need some paper and pencils and another key ingredient – time, as much of it as you can spare. Luckily that is something we all have more of now. You need to embrace the idea of slowliness too – this is a word we use in our work a lot. Take your time to listen carefully to each other and the world around you. Give yourself and everyone else permission to be playful and let go of certainties. In the world of fantastical mapping there are no right or wrong answers – just ideas and questions. Your unique map will include lots of different ideas and once complete, can also be offered to others as a starting point for their new journeys and discoveries.
There are 5 different maps – Maps from other minds – and three other games you can print off below. Together they offer at least 20 different prompts for how to start your own creative adventures.
With thanks to all the communities in the Fantastical Cambridgeshire projects who inspired these games. You can read more about their design here and the projects here. A set can also be purchased from the CCI shop.
Our Ways into Hinchingbrook Country Park – A Fantastical Guide for the Wildly Curious with a foreword by Rob Macfarlane can also be read online here.
To read this book is to see innocently again, and to renew your sense of words as being able to forge and conjure. It brims with the power of make-believe. Rob Macfarlane
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.