A Thousand Butterflies

In partnership with the Co-op and Easi Works (Autism Plus) we are now proud to announce that the project to create a community art installation of over 1,000 colourful butterflies has been completed.

A stream of beautiful butterflies fluttering under the library’s much-loved willow tree is a very striking and memorable reflection of the years 2020 and 2021 and how their particular challenges have affected everyone.


In late 2019, Easingwold Community Library successfully applied to North Yorkshire’s Stronger Community fund for money to run a volunteer-led project called ‘Inspire the Child’.

The project’s main aim was to bring primary school children from the various small rural schools around Easingwold into the library and to run several library-related activities. The project was a great success but unfortunately was cut short by the pandemic and the restrictions on socialising and mixing with others that it heralded.

A library volunteer was inspired after reading about, and then visiting, ‘The Flock’ art installation at Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham. His vision was to involve as many people as possible from our local community in the creation of an art installation outside the community library.

With the blessing of North Yorkshire County Council the funding from the Stronger Community fund was diverted to the new project. A small team comprising volunteers from the library, the local Co-op and Easi Works (a local Autism Plus social enterprise) was gathered and A Thousand Butterflies Community Art Project was born. It was a great opportunity to draw people together during the difficult time of lockdown and, for many, a spell of unprecedented and very challenging social isolation.

The team’s idea was to provide at least 1,000 plywood butterflies, each around 18cm by 12cm. Children and adults in the community were invited to decorate one side of a butterfly as colourfully as possible and, if they chose, to write a message of remembrance, love and hope on the other side.

A system was set up so that in January 2021 the butterflies could be safely distributed. In April they started to flutter back to the library where they were varnished by a team of volunteers.

A beautiful result

The butterflies look truly wonderful and it is evident that each and every one has been decorated with love. There are very special and heartfelt messages recorded on them and many brought several of our volunteers to tears.

It is clear that butterfly decorating helped to combat loneliness during lockdown and provided a welcome focus on a joyful group enterprise during social isolation – a shining light in a period of deep gloom.

The butterflies give an overwhelming feeling of hope and if there is one word that could sum up their messages it has to be ‘kindness’.  It’s such a simple word but it was repeated by so many people; just be kind to each other and we will get through this.

In parallel with A Thousand Butterflies, the community library’s Knit and Natter Group organised the knitting or crocheting of scores of colourful butterflies by a host of local craftspeople. These too have fluttered back to the library and are proudly on display both outside and inside the library building.

The butterflies – wooden and woollen – are now displayed in the library garden around and under the magnificent and much-loved willow tree.

Please do drop by and enjoy them while they are here.


The art project was open to everyone in the local community. Many local community organisations such as the local Women’s Institute, the University of the Third Age (U3A), local care homes, the home library service, guides, cubs scouts and Easingwold Community Care Association (EDCCA) all got involved and seven local primary schools participated. They were joined by hundreds of individuals from the local community. Our youngest participant was aged only 2 and our oldest was a grand 92!

Our thanks to everyone who took part. We hope that you are thrilled to see your butterflies flying proudly in the installation.


The project was funded by the North Yorkshire ‘Stronger Community’ Fund through an application made by Easingwold Community Library, and by donations from generous businesses and individuals to whom we are very grateful.