The Lost Words: artwork from the publishing phenomenon gets its own exhibition

A special showing of The Lost Words is coming to Bournemouth's Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum next month. Featuring the art of Jackie Morris and the creative talents of writer Robert Macfarlane, the show celebrates nature's power to spark the imagination.

Launching on 26 March and running until 18 September, The Lost Words is an enchanting exhibition based on the Sunday Times bestselling book of the same name first published in 2017.

Having become something of a cultural phenomenon, The Lost Words has sold roughly a quarter of a million hardback copies, been translated into several languages, and even been adapted into a film, folk song, dance and puppet theatre. There is even a grassroots movement that aims to donate a copy of the book to every primary school in England, Wales and Scotland.

Perhaps the secret to The Lost Word's success is its inspiration. The book was created in response to the removal of the names of plants and animals from children's dictionaries, a decision that was made under the assumption that children did not use these words in everyday life. In fact, a survey of British primary school children found 8-11 year-olds were "substantially better" at being able to identify types of Pokemon character than species of common UK wildlife.

The Lost Words exhibition brings nature to an audience of all ages by featuring 20 acrostic spell-poems and 50 beautiful watercolour and gold-leaf original paintings used to create the book. By combining the considerable talents of the creatives behind the publication, the exhibition offers "a beautiful protest" against nature's disappearance from our lives and stories.

Sarah Newman, manager at the Russell-Cotes, said: "We're delighted to welcome The Lost Words to the Russell-Cotes in our centenary year. We know that people all over the country have been delighted by the art and poetry that Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris created, and we look forward to bringing it to the region for the first time. [Museum founders] Merton and Annie were passionate about art, language and nature, so this seems a perfect fit for their home."

Described by the museum as "a retreat for the eyes, mind and soul", the exhibition reconnect adults and children to the natural world using the magic of words and art.

Timed to be part of the Russell-Cote's Centenary celebrations, which mark 100 years since Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes gifted the house to the people of Bournemouth, the touring exhibition is organised by Compton Verney, with Hamish Hamilton and Penguin Books.


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