AN INSPIRING intergenerational arts project in the Tamar Valley is connecting generations to each other and to the natural world that’s on their doorstep.

‘Wild About Calstock’ is a new project engaging local schoolchildren from Calstock and Stoke Climsland Primary Schools and Sensory Trust’s dementia-friendly Walk and Laugh Group with the natural environment and wildlife in the Calstock parish by working with the tried and tested model of The Photobook Project. 

The Photobook Project invites people living with dementia to document their experiences through the use of a single-use camera, and now thanks to the new project which has been supported by a successful funding grant, Tamar Valley schoolchildren are getting involved too.

Project organiser Judith Robinson explained that she was inspired to create the arts project, ‘Wild About Calstock’ after joining the Calstock Parish Council’s nature recovery climate working group.

She said: “I am concerned about all the things that are happening with the climate emergency and loss of wildlife. I want to help people to appreciate what is on their doorstep.”

Judith is the mother of Ellie Robinson-Carter who founded The Photobook Project and Judith was keen to work with her daughter to link this intergenerational project to raising awareness of the parish council’s Climate Change Action Plan and the environmental challenges and opportunities that the Tamar Valley AONB and Calstock are currently seeking to address.

Judith explained that the project seeks to build a deeper appreciation of the local natural world and to improve wellbeing, by bringing different generations together on three guided nature walks and offering a supportive shared experience of walking, observing, documenting, knowledge exchange and learning. The themes of the project are: foraging, winter wetlands and wildlife. The photos taken during the walks will be made into three photobooks and there will be an exhibition showcasing the photos in March at Calstock Arts.

Following a successful application to FEAST to support the delivery of the project, the first of the nature-based walks took place last week. The walk saw eight children from the schools and those living with dementia that are part of the Sensory Trust’s Walk & Laugh Group meet at Cotehele for a guided foraging walk. During the walk forager, Joanna Ruminska pointed out things that could be foraged such as sweet chestnuts, nettles and herbs, whilst the group also passed around the single-use camera to capture images for the group’s photobooks.

Judith said: “The children were really engaged and the older people were sharing their knowledge, it was a lovely interaction. I got some lovely feedback from both the children and the older people, one older person said ‘they would remember this for the rest of their lives.’”

“I had this little acorn of an idea but it was very straightforward because everybody has been very keen to make it happen and offer help. It’s felt like it’s been meant to be.”

The next walk is to take place on December 6 and will be themed around ‘wetlands’. This project has been supported by FEAST, Arts Council England, Cornwall Council, Calstock Parish Council, Sensory Trust, Calstock Arts, The Photobook Project, The Box and the Tamara Landscape Partnership (a delivery branch of the Tamar Valley AONB).