Helping Older Generation Connect with Nature Remotely

Art Diamonds is a programme of creative activities and events for people of retirement age led by Gateshead Council’s Libraries Arts & Heritage Service. The project has almost 200 members who take part in arts activities to help improve their wellbeing and reduce social isolation.

Northumberland National Park worked with a group of 10 ‘Art Diamonds’ to give them a virtual tour of The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre including The Lost Words exhibition. Based on The Lost Words book of spells, the exhibition centres around the importance of words in nature through poems by writer Robert Macfarlane and artist Jackie Morris.

The Art Diamonds group – who due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been more isolated from relatives and loved ones – also took part in a competition which encouraged them to create their own poems and illustrations to capture their feelings evoked by the Lost Words.

Opportunities to access and engage with nature

Sarah Burn, Head of Engagement at Northumberland National Park Authority said: “We were delighted and honoured to be invited to bring the beauty of Northumberland National Park and The Lost Words to the Gateshead Art Diamonds programme.

“It’s our aim to provide people of all ages with the opportunity to access and engage with nature. Through Art Diamonds, people have the opportunity to engage with the Park in new and creative ways and the resulting artwork and poetry was truly breath-taking.”

Poetry

Read a selection of the poems written by the Art Diamonds group.

Holly by Alan Hind

Holly is an evergreen
Often used to cheer up scenes
Lush red berries with deep green leaves
Lighten up our Winter Eves
Yuletide wishes every one

Bluebell by Kathleen Bambrough

Bluebells, I
Love to see them
Usually in the woods
Even wild in hedgerows
Bees busy around
Enjoying all nature has to offer
Learning to nod their heads
Leave them for all to enjoy.

Dandelion by Kenneth Mood

Do you see the world
And wonder why
No one can deny
Dandelions are beautiful
Even on pandemic days
Little parachutes fly
In amazing days
On the breeze as
Neon lights shine

Otter by Caroline Davison

Oh …..
To be an otter.
Travelling the seas,
Early morning fisherfolk
Riding their waves with me.

Acorn by Cecelia Coulson

Anxiously, together, glancing at celestial heavens above
Clouds are seen, as canopies of oak trees sway in the breeze,
Orange, brown, yellow, golden curled leaves lie as a carpet of love,
Rustled noisily by small boots, shuffling as they please,
Nuts gathered by squirrels; a winter pantry full of fallen acorns.

BRAMBLE By Maureen C Bell

Bold, brash and bountiful,
Rough
And tough.
Making a tangle to hide
Blackberries, juicy and
Lush. Pies, crumbles, jam
Eating is such satisfaction.

Crow by Barbara Grant

Crow, seems we met only yesterday
Ruffled feathers old eyes, dull and grey.
Old or sick? Together we walked in sun’s last ray
What’s wrong? I’d help if you’d just say.

Crow, dear Crow. I found you the next day.
Red blood beaded your beak, bedraggled you lay
Oh how I wish I’d been able to stay
Was I comfort enough when death called that day

Crow it’s my turn now I’m alone and turned grey
Returned are the memories of our walk on that day.
Oh Crow, will you return and with me stay
Will you be my comfort when death comes my way?

Crow is that you?, black feathers not grey
Ruffled no more, sleek shiny in sun’s last ray
Old no more. Will I regain my youth as on that Day?
Will you stay with me and comfort me in your way?
Dear Crow.

Hawthorn by Judi Postle

Hawthorn blossom, Spring’s own gift
As it comes we feel our spirits lift
We shake of all of Winter’s gloom
To see the hedgerows in full bloom
Haw berries follow, red and bright
Our birds will feast on Winter nights
Remember never to cast a clout
Not until the May is out!

Kingfisher by Pauline Groundwater

King of all fishers
In your dominion up high
Nothing escaping your steely eye
Glittering down on every beam
From flowing river and dancing stream
In a swift dart of orange and blue
Sword like beak spearing through
Halving the waters into sparkles of
Emeralds and diamonds before
Returning to your kingdom replete with spoils of war.

Incredible artwork and poetry

Councillor Angela Douglas, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport & Leisure, Gateshead Council said: “We are so grateful and thrilled that Northumberland National Park shared the beautiful Lost Words project with our Art Diamonds group.

“The pandemic has meant we’ve been unable to hold our usual workshops and events but staying creative is more important than ever as people face long periods of time isolated from family and friends and aren’t able to go out and experience nature first-hand.

“It was a delight to see the incredible artwork and poetry that came from this project and it demonstrates how important nature and creativity is for our wellbeing.”

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