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The Lost Words

Lark by Jackie Morris, 2016 Credit Jackie MorrisLark by Jackie Morris, 2016 Credit Jackie Morris

The Lost Words (15 June to 29 July 2019) 

We are delighted to be hosting The Lost Words exhibition in 2019, on tour from Compton Verney. This unique collaboration between award-winning author Robert Macfarlane and acclaimed artist Jackie Morris has been widely praised for helping reconnect adults and children with the natural world using the power of words and art. It particularly resonates with our own purpose of capturing the beauty and importance of our protected landscapes through art.

Bluebell Credit Jackie MorrisNature seems increasingly to be retreating from our children's stories and imaginations. In response to this widening gulf between language and the natural world, The Lost Words seeks to conjure that vanishing wildness back into existence through images and writing.

Suitable for all ages, the exhibition will display 20 acrostic spell-poems written by Robert Macfarlane, each based on a lost word such as bluebell, bramble, conker, otter and wren; words that he believes are fading from everyday language as the species themselves decline.

Alongside the poems, 50 beautiful watercolours, originally used to create The Lost Words book by artist Jackie Morris, will be displayed. These illustrations use gold leaf as an expression of Jackie’s desire to help viewers go on a journey where the familiar suddenly appears magical once more.

The exhibition presents the original artwork from The Lost Words, and a new series of poems and illustrations, plus bronze and ceramic wildlife sculptures by Dave Cooke. Plan your visit to the Inspired by... gallery here.

Compton Verney logoRead the latest in Jackie Morris' blog.

The Lost Words exhibition is curated by Compton Verney, with Hamish Hamilton and Penguin Books. 

Images (from top to bottom): Lark by Jackie Morris (c) Jackie Morris; Bluebell by Jackie Morris (c) Jackie Morris; Heron by Jackie Morris (c) Jackie Morris; Dandelion by Jackie Morris (c) Jackie Morris

The Lost Words events programme

We're holding a series of events linked to The Lost Words exhibition, including workshops, talks and activities for all the family.

Heron Credit Jackie Morris

  • Opening event and evening reception (14 June: 6pm for 6.30pm): Opening by Jackie Morris and Amy-Jane Beer. Limited places available, please book early.
  • Jackie Morris - Meet the Artist, Tour and Talk (15 June: 11am–1pm and 2–4pm): An opportunity to meet the artist Jackie Morris for a talk and tour of the exhibition. Jackie will be happy to sign books on request. Booking not required, drop in anytime.
  • The Lost Words Expedition (15 June: 11am–1pm and 2–4pm): Take a wander to the stream and have a splash where the otters play. Build a boat and discover the names of the plants and animals around us before making a time capsule filled with 'Lost Words' to take home and bury. Minimum age 5. Children must be accompanied by an adult. This is a free event but spaces are limited so booking is essential: morning expedition or afternoon expedition.
  • The Lost Words Treasure Hunt (15 June - 29 July): Investigate the grounds and see if you can find some of the lost words from the book. No booking required, drop in anytime between 10:30am and 4pm. Cost: Adult: Free Child £3.
  • Willow Weaving Workshop: Life Size Heron (23 June): Take inspiration from The Lost Words to make your own fabulous life-size heron garden sculpture with expert willow weaver Anthea Firth. Cost: £50 (booking essential).
  • Rosedale Wildlife Week (23 – 29 June): Join the ‘Land of Iron’ project team for a week’s worth of wildlife-themed walks, family activities, talks and workshops in Rosedale from moth-trapping and wildlife walks to natural history lectures and mammal-monitoring.
  • Awakening the Writer Within: Summer Workshop (28 July: 1-4.30pm): Be inspired by The Lost Words to write by the sights and sounds of the North York Moors. Janet Dean and Clara Challoner Walker will lead a writing workshop using the landscape, flora, fauna and art to stimulate your poetry and prose (booking essential).
  • Young Artist Workshop: The Lost Words (30 June and 20 July, 10am-12:45pm and 1:45–4:30pm): Beginning with an introduction to The Lost Words exhibition and a short session outdoors, children will then create a silk and mixed media collage celebrating nature and the outdoors with artist Jane Carlisle Bellerby. Suitable for ages 7 and above. Cost: £7.50 (booking essential).
  • The Lost Words: Watercolour Workshop (6 July): Join artist Peter Reynolds to develop watercolour painting techniques, looking at objects to consider form and tone, and take inspiration from The Lost Words exhibition and the natural world on your doorstep. Minimum age 18. Cost £45 (booking essential).

Our Education Service will also be offering a brand new outdoor activity linked to The Lost Words book from April 2019, more details to follow shortly.

The Lost Words Poem Tree and poetry competition 

Join one of our four poetry days (see dates below). Listen to the poems of The Lost Words read by actor Bidi Iredale. Take a look at the treasure in our nature box, then create your own poem inspired by the sights, smells and sounds of the natural world, its landscapes and wildlife. Your poem will be hung on the ‘Poem Tree’ at the gallery and entered into the poetry competition of which ten selected poems will be judged by author Robert Macfarlane.  

All entrants will receive a letter from Robert. The ten selected poems will also receive a gold-stamped and signed copy of The Lost Words, while the first and second prize winners will receive a gold-stamped copy plus a hand-written poem from The Lost Words.

Poetry days 
Saturday 15 June 11am-1pm and 2-4pm
Sunday 30 June 11am-3pm
Saturday 13 July 11am-3pm
Thursday 25 July 11am-3pm

Find out more about The Lost Words

You can find a number of free resources supported and hosted by John Muir Trust including: 

  • An Explorer's Guide to The Lost Words, free to download
  • Free poster downloads, including bramble and kingfisher
  • Insightful articles about the book
  • A Literacy & Nature Guide (from the John Muir Trust), with inspiration and actions to discover the links between literacy and nature.
  • Literacy & Nature for Educators: Session Guidance (for running your own training sessions using The Lost Words resources)

Read The Lost Words, one year on blog post from Rob Bushby, giving an overview of the first year in the book’s life.

Read about the successful crowdfunder appeal coordinated by Amy-Jane Beer and Paddy Hall to put a copy of The Lost Words into every primary school in North Yorkshire.

Dandelion Credit Jackie Morris