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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

13 November 2021

Posted by Beth McKeeman

A Gallery Rising

Junior Writers Number - 9
Young Writers Number - 10

This took a bit of thinking about how to write because the Young Writers went off topic into a deep conversation about inequality. I could compose a whole essay on the conversations that were going, create a manifesto for change, but it wouldn’t do justice to their thoughts, opinions and current-day school experiences.

But that’s why it’s so good that we can share their words and that together we can explore avenues that enable us to shine lights on topics that they’re passionate about. This week we took Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Still I Rise’. Through watching it twice (here and here), we saw it applied more generally to the world and specifically to Serena Williams. Each was powerful in its own way, changing the intensity and how we connected with it.

It can be good to look at works in the context of the artist. In Maya Angelou’s case, she is an African American woman which gives her a certain view of the world. She’s also inherited a culture. We thought about what gifts we’ve been given from our families - there were a variety of talents and interests such as music, writing, sport and languages as well as the physical inheritance of paintings.

Society can be hurtful, but we can do things to change, to rise above. It isn’t fair that there’s a gender pay gap, or that there are ‘boy’ sports and ‘girl’ sports and ideas about who should be good at them, or separate and inequal uniform policies, that trans students are forced to use the wrong changing room, or that every angel in the nativity play is a girl (even though Gabriel is described as he) - but if we rise up, say something, maybe we will come out of the huts of histories shame.

On a lighter note, the Junior Writers went on a trip! It was the first time some had been to an art gallery so our hop across Guildhall to Southampton Art Gallery was very exciting.

To the disappointment of many we only stayed in the main exhibit hall - so perhaps you’ll have to go back to see it all - but that held plenty of treasures. There were plenty of gasps and lots of pointing as we went around and looked at all the pieces. From a massive portrait of Napoleon all the way down to a small brightly coloured abstract, a landscape of cows to a bronze statue, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
When we’d admired everything, we split off to each go to our favourite piece. There we wrote down the name, artist and a bit of a description - what was it? What colours were in it?

Our favourites were:
Milking Time by William Shayer - chosen by Eva and Amira
Cyprus by David Bomberg - chosen by Rowan
Portrait of Charles Ginner by Malcolm Drummond - chosen by Leo and Arsh
Port de Bouc by Augustus John - chosen by Chloe
The brightly coloured abstract chosen by Eliza
The bronze statue chosen by Jennifer and Annelise

Pictures tell a thousand words, though a writer might disagree, but in this case I will leave you with pictures from our trip. A reminder that next Saturday we are going to the University of Southampton.

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