Details of both our current and recent events and workshops:
ArtScapers – being and becoming creative
An inspiring story, beautifully told –– of how children are wondernauts; of how art and making can change minds and lift hearts; of how using the outdoors as a classroom can transform learning, and bring joy and hope. It's a chronicle of the ongoing, unfurling adventures of the imagination in one place, with one group, which ripples outwards in powerful ways.
Rob Macfarlane, writer and CCI Patron
Today we launch Artscapers a new CCI publication which challenges educational thinking and practice and demonstrates what happens for a school when they invite children and artists to adventure together in the world around them.
The natural world and the arts have a significant role to play for us all but particularly our children as we reopen schools. Artscapers offers a new pathway into creative learning for young people and their teachers. Here’s Headteacher Paula Ayliffe, one of the authors, sharing how important imagination and curiosity have been for them during lockdown.
Now more than ever, our children need to reconnect with and reinvent their world. And this is best done by exploring and adventuring, wandering and wondering, losing ourselves and finding ourselves in acts of imagination and creativity. Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination call this Artscaping. It is a wonderful thing and every child should be given it.
Kevin Jones, Education Adviser and Writer, Headteacher St John’s College School (1990-2016)
Here is the book free to read or it be purchased from the CCI Shop
The impact of our work on young children’s well-being is currently part of ongoing research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council with colleagues at Anglia Ruskin University – the Eco-Capabilities Project. This webinar recorded just last month with colleagues from Mayfield and their nursery next door gives a flavour of how educators and artists are working together to transform children’s lives.
The book includes a foreword from Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement and author of From What is to What If - In these pages you will find something glorious, splendid and deeply familiar blinking awake, but for too long marginalised and forgotten. Don’t avoid its gaze, rather allow yourself to fall in love with it, to trust what you discover and allow yourself to be transported by it. This is a precious gift, and I am deeply grateful for it.
And also words from Melissa Benn, writer and journalist - Artscapers: Being and Becoming Creative is not just pleasurable to read, it also serves an important function. It will act as an encouragement and inspiration to thousands of others in the English School system, including the many school leaders and teachers who currently feel lonelier that they should, following the unimaginative turn in education policy and unnecessary privations of austerity in recent years. It will act as a vital resource for their own boldness and practice.
In our fast changing world, where there are few right answers to profound challenges, the work of Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination reveals the power of adventurous thinking, and the role it should rightly have in how we teach and learn.
Tony Juniper CBE, Environmentalist
In the midst of lockdown my spirits are lifted, every day, by the beauty of nature. But I’m so aware that not everyone has the privilege of being close to it. And that many children have watched this glorious spring unfold through a window, or on snatched visits outside. Yet given a chance, contact with nature awakes in us all an immense creativity, enriching our lives, calming our minds and enabling all kinds of possibilities. Artscapers – an inspiring account of the Art-in-Education programme run in Cambridge – shows just what can be done. Children, artists, teachers and creative leaders tell of an astonishing variety of activities that brought children, art and nature together. While no-one knew where it would lead, the creative energy, curiosity and imagination it unleashed was, frankly, astounding. Now imagine all children, everywhere, given such a chance … how could we resist the simple message? Nature is good for you, and nature with art is even better. If we do nothing else after the coronavirus crisis, let’s make every child, everywhere, an ArtScaper.
Dame Fiona Reynolds, Master, Emmanuel College and former Director General of the National Trust
As the world struggles with a climate emergency, a Covid crisis, and a racial injustice crisis, there can be no better time to imagine how things could be different. Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination is an inspiring example, showing that learning and teaching can be re-imagined and that the next generation is not bound to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Daniel Zeichner, MP Cambridge
ArtScapers: being and becoming creative is written by Paula Ayliffe (Co-Headteacher of Mayfield Primary School), Esther Sayers (Goldsmiths University), Ruth Sapsed (CCI) and David Whitley (Fellow of Homerton College) with a foreword by Rob Hopkins and made possible with the generous support of the Art Fund.
ArtScapers is part of the University of Cambridge’s Public Art Programme for the area now known as Eddington. This is curated by Contemporary Art Society for the University of Cambridge’s North West Cambridge Development.
Creative Care Invitations
Artists are making these ‘invitations to create’ to help people rediscover the world on their doorsteps in creative ways. Research clearly shows that being creative like this helps people feel better, even when life is really confusing, which it certainly is now. Whilst the digital world enables crucial connectivity, our screens can ‘suck us in’. These invitations encourage you to step out into the world around you, reconnect with all your senses and with the pleasures of noticing, listening, making and shaping.
Five artists are working together on the programme. Over the month of May we will be sharing three invitations each week. Each invitation invites you to explore the spaces you are in, especially the natural world on your doorsteps, in new ways using only the simplest of materials and everyday objects. No special art skills required. They are created by:
- Filipa Pereira-Stubbs and Caroline Wendling for younger children and their families.
- Hilary Cox Condron and Sally Todd for teenagers.
- Susanne Jasilek’s invitations for adults of any age.
We share them all here together each week so that anyone can enjoy them, depending on whether you are being creative alone, or with your family and friends.
River of Colour by Filipa and Caroline
The Wonder of a Pebble by Hilary and Sally
The O-so-familiar by Susanne
Look for creatures by Filipa and Caroline
What makes a place by Hilary and Sally
Where have you been by Susanne
Creatures and Companions by Filipa and Caroline
Patterns in Nature by Hilary and Sally
The Images of Words by Susanne
Create a Window by Filipa and Caroline
Making it Move by Hilary and Sally
Balancing Act by Susanne
Short films are also being made to introduce the invites and build relationships with groups using them - here’s our first - The Wonder of a Pebble with Hilary and Sally:
In partnership with Mayfield Primary School, The Kite Trust, Cambridge Academic Partnership and the Arts on Prescription programme, they are also being delivered as part of care packs that include simple art materials and resources for families, young people and adults who they felt would particularly benefit. We will be building galleries of work created on our website and would love to see artwork that you create. Please share it with us and help build a creative and connected community. Send us a photograph and some words to describe it – using twitter, facebook or Instagram and the hashtag #creativecare or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creative Care has been devised with Arts and Minds and children’s charity Blue Smile. We are collaborating as part of FullScope, a third sector consortia based in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with funds from the National Lottery Community Fund that also includes MIND CPSL, Centre 33, and YMCA. FullScope’s mission is to effect a more accessible, relevant and equitable system to support children, young people and their communities with their mental wellbeing. Alongside this programme we’ve been working together and 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.
Creative Care Programme
CCI is working with Arts and Minds and children’s charity Blue Smile on Creative Care, a programme for people of all ages offering creative invitations and resources. These are designed by artists and aim to nourish creativity at home during this lockdown period. They invite us to explore the spaces we are in, especially the natural world on our doorsteps, in new ways using only the simplest of materials and everyday objects.
Artists Caroline Wendling and Filipa Pereira Stubbs are focusing on invitations for primary school aged children and their families, Hilary Cox Condron and Sally Todd’s are for students in secondary school whilst Susanne Jasilek’s are for adults of any age. No special art skills required.
The care packs are being delivered through our partnerships with Mayfield Primary School, Cambridge Academic Partnership and Arts and Minds alumni but the invitations are free to download for anyone. There will be one a week for each of the groups posted on our website during the month of May. Please email us here if you would like these sent direct to you by email.
We are collaborating as part of FullScope, a third sector consortia based in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with funds from the National Lottery Community Fund that also includes MIND CPSL, Centre 33, The Kite Trust and YMCA. Our mission is to effect a more accessible, relevant and equitable system to support children, young people and their communities with their mental wellbeing.
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.