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A Global Citizen

The phrase ‘take only memories, leave only footprints’ is attributed to Chief Seattle a Native American who came from the Duwamish Tribe in the state of Washington. It has become the mantra for environmentally friendly living – leave no trace.

House Sparrow, photo credit Aikul Haque Rafat


Though Chief Seattle was born a century before Isobel, his ideology could have been hers. Isobel was passionate about nature and her earliest writings, drawings and prose, feature the gardens of her home at Carlowrie Castle. With 32 acres to explore it was a future botanists dream and is still well worth a visit. Although in the 1900’s, it wasn’t fully understood how plants and trees contributed to absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, Isobel certainly did enough planting to offset her carbon footprint.


Whether she knew it or not, Isobel was a model global citizen. She had the financial resources to travel in style, but often journeyed by commercial ships, staying with local people or in basic accommodation designed for passing traders. She sourced native clothing rather than wear Burberry jackets so popular with polar explorers of her time, (some of the most famous photographs of Isobel see her sporting seal skins) and though ship’s cargo logs show she took haggis and plum puddings on various voyages, we know that these were given as gifts - she ate seasonally and whatever was available at the time.


Forest Scene, photo credit Anton Atanasov


Every year on 25th March, we are reminded of our impact on the planet via Earth Hour and encouraged to switch our lights off as a symbol of our commitment to nature. It all began in 2007 when the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) challenged the citizens of Sydney Australia, to show government their concern about climate change. It’s estimated that 2.2 million people supported that first event and since then it has become a global movement Though electric lights only became common place in UK homes during the 1930’s, (by which time Isobel was in her forties), the Earth Hour concept would have undoubtedly appealed to her.

Isobel Wylie Hutchison amidst nature, sketching


When Isobel returned to Carlowrie Castle, she lived without central heating, cooking on a small stove and caring for the gardens she had planted decades before. A life of stepping lightly on the planet, observing other cultures and climates had engrained an appreciation of how little we need to not only survive but to thrive. She died in 1982 aged 93.



25th March / 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm








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The North Star Explorer

Learn more about Isobel’s passion for the natural world, her experience of travelling to remote places and her encounters expressed through art and creative writing.

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