Tue 21 May 2024
Leeds Art Gallery
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Leeds Contemporary Art Gallery

This project was also ambitious in scale. It was unique in that it took an artwork from the Leeds collection and installed it in their school while the gallery was closed for refurbishment. This was such a rare idea – and a great opportunity to get the whole school involved.

You can see that it worked from the film. There’s a real buzz in the air, and that’s backed up by feedback from the writer, project team, and the evaluation. You can track the children’s growth by the way they responded to questions at the start and end of the project, too. At the beginning, children were asked, ‘what is a poet?’ One child wrote ‘most rubbish thing ever’. I love the honesty of that, but at the end of the time spent working with Helen, the response from that same child had changed completely to ‘They write poems that people find interesting. People come together to make poems. Exciting to write.’

The film speaks for itself – the children seemed more engaged and more confident by the end of the process. Taking the artwork into the school also seems to have helped get the rest of the staff involved – you can practically feel the buzz in the air. Having the poet perform a group piece for children is a really great piece of pedagogy, too – it sends the message that kids can make things happen, through the power of their written word, they can make adults feel something. I think that’s very special.

An article related to this project appears in Writing in Education No. 73.


Leeds Art Gallery project resource: https://vimeo.com/237757950


This project was made possible through funding from The Max Reinhardt Literacy Award (MRLA). The MRLA is a programme conceived by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust in memory of the publisher, Max Reinhardt. It has been developed with the support of Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education, and the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) to enable galleries, art museums and visual arts venues to support a dedicated programme of creative writing and literacy work with schools. The Awards are funded by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust, with additional support from the Ernest Cook Trust.