This small tangled woodland, tucked into a residential area has offered us a perfect space to continue exploring ideas of Wild Exchange. Our projects always encourage children to share ideas, to build connections between the woods and the classroom, and to explore how other artists and writers have responded to wild places. In recent years we have invited professionals in the fields of landscape, language, and exploration to respond to children’s ways of exploring and discovering.
In 2013 Robert Macfarlane wrote an intriguing Foreword to our Fantastical Guide to Hinchingbrooke Country Park based on CCI’s project there with Cromwell Park Primary School. He joined us in our discussion event You are where? and the Foreword became a much longer chapter in his 2015 publication Landmarks.
In 2015 poet Jackie Kay explored alongside children in Year 1 and Year 3 in the Spinney Wild Woods and back in their classrooms. There were fascinating exchanges between the two groups of children, and a lively, rich exchange of ideas and composed work between the children and Jackie. Detailed diary posts can be found below.
Now published alongside each other in A poem of a dream of the woods are six new poems by Jackie, and a small selection from the children’s prolific journals. In a second Wild Exchange we invited illustrator Elena Arévalo Melville to draw on the project documentation to create our first Fantastical Map of a wild space. Elements from the map along with Elena’s on-site sketches of the woods and the children’s drawings of trees and monsters now illustrate this collection of poetry.