Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Gift of Beauty

Back in autumn/winter 2017 I came across a book, not unusual for a librarian and book-addict admittedly, but this wasn't just any book, this was a gift to the soul, a true work of imagination and sublime art, it arrived at a truly traumatic time in my life and over the last 2 years I'm not the only one it has spoken to and I certainly can't be the only one to draw comfort from it's pages, to revisit the words, the pictures and the whole feeling of peace that the work creates and I know I have mentioned it here previously.

Created by illustrator and artist Jackie Morris and writer Robert Macfarlane The Lost Words was a reaction to the removal of certain nature words from the 2007 Oxford children's dictionary and the effect it had on me and countless others has been palpable. It's pages conjure the fleeting beauty of bluebells, the delicate joy of wren, the majesty of raven and even the glimmer of starling and the sheer joy it gives is testament to the magic of the spells written and creatures conjured from its pages.

Since these two magicians came together their work has taken on a life of it's own spawning crowd-funder campaigns right across the country to ensure schools, hospices and care-homes have copies to share with their pupils, patients and residents and leading to new spells being created on hospital walls by Jackie and another magician of the natural world - Alison O'Toole. Jackie herself explains how that came about on her own beautiful blog but the magic hasn't stopped there. Now, new joy has been born in the form of The Spell Songs a glorious combination of musicians, wordsmiths, art and love for the natural world - they've toured and will even be doing a Prom later this month and just this week my own copy of their wonder-filled CD arrived on my doorstep. The haunting Blessing and strident Heartwood resonate around the house as I write this and will be played again and again in the weeks to come. But fret not if buying the book or CD is beyond your means right now, because they've also posted the beauty onto the 'Net - allowing it to run free for everyone to hear, watch and benefit from. Jackie has even allowed us to take a walk with her on a recent podcast from Folk on Foot, to share in the surroundings that help produce those glorious illustrations and to listen in to a bit of the magic that has sprouted from the seeds she and Robert planted. I'm not sure if their creation is what they hoped it would be but I hope they realise just how much it has meant to so many people. I hope that wherever they go and wherever they read, conjure and perform, the words "Thank You" are uttered over and over again and if you haven't yet come across the magic then click on one of the video links below and enjoy!


  1. So Beautiful I'm going to look for both of them now xx

  2. You'll love them I promisr


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