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The Lost Words

By October 11, 2019January 26th, 2021Member News & Updates

From 19 October to 12 January Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) plays host to a unique collaborative project from writer Robert Macfarlane and artist Jackie Morris.

Springing from their award-winning book, described by The Guardian as a ‘cultural phenomenon’, The Lost Words is an enchanting and hopeful exhibition that celebrates the relationship between language and the living world.

An antidote to a modern society in which nature seems in retreat from our lives and the language of our children, the acrostic spell-poems of Robert Macfarlane and beautiful watercolours of Jackie Morris combine to conjure this vanishing wildness back into existence.


In 2007, the Oxford Junior English Dictionary cut a number of words that described the natural world. These included kingfisher, acorn, otter, and wren. The rationale provided was that these words were no longer in common usage by young people, and the dictionary had a duty to reflect the ‘daily language of children’. Following a heated debate played out in the national press, Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane’s project to restore the ‘lost words’ was born. The Lost Words touring exhibition is organised by Compton Verney, with Hamish Hamilton and Penguin Books.

Jackie Morris

Jackie Morris is an internationally bestselling artist and writer whose work draws on her love of animals and the natural world. An artist from a young age, she has worked with authors and poets including Ted Hughes and Mary Hoffman, and organisations including Oxfam, Amnesty International and Greenpeace.

Robert Macfarlane

Robert Macfarlane is a leading figure in the field of contemporary nature writing. His best-selling books have won numerous awards, including most recently the prestigious Wainwright Prize (2019). He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2017 he was awarded the E.M Forster Award for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.