Observations in Nature

front cover of three of the books

Observations in Nature is a photography and book-making project for people living with dementia and their carers in the community in Cornwall as part of our Creative Spaces project. This arts-based project is based on a concept originally designed by Ellie Robinson-Carter as part of her MA in Illustration in 2016. Ellie worked alongside one of our dementia walking groups to document their walks through photographs.

Observations in Nature was rolled out across the other four Creative Spaces dementia friendly walking groups.  

The model

During each walk the group passed around a disposable camera and were asked to take photographs with a particular theme or constraint in mind. The themes provide a focus, another form of cognitive stimulation and a shared topic of conversation: the group became the illustrators of their own narrative. The themes spanned a variety of ideas, such as senses, personal experiences and times of year.
One of the aims of the project was to celebrate each of the groups at this stage of their development, providing an opportunity for deeper engagement with their surroundings and shared experiences. The project taught them a host of new skills whilst fostering old ones: the groups engaged in photography lessons and book-making sessions, learning different ways of using the camera and creating the A6 books to go inside the larger A5 photo books. The groups were encouraged to be experimental and creative with their project, fostering a sense of ownership and authorship.

Browse the collection of finished books

Taking part in photography outdoorslooking at nature findings

The future

We hope to roll this project out to other groups, nurturing a community of people who use nature to enhance the lives of people living with dementia. This project is a fantastic example of mind and landscape coming together: it is a psycho-geographical project which allows the people to document their experiences in the landscape, whilst nurturing and sharing their inner landscapes. It also creates visual prompts which can allow them to revisit their shared memories and is extremely important in providing the individuals with self-evidence that living with dementia can still mean that they can form new connections, both with people and landscape.

Participant looking at one of the photo books


Find out more

get involved with Creative Spaces - we're looking for volunteers

regular dementia activity groups - we run a series of regular groups for people living with dementia and their carers

activities and factsheets - to help you plan dementia-friendly spaces and activities

looking for training? - we can tailor our training courses to your needs

Find out the story behind the St Austell based walking group.