A group of young people, members of Bradford Young Ambassadors, have been investigating and responding to Bradford Museums and Galleries collections as part of Precious Cargo, Yorkshire’s project for Stories of the World, part of the Cultural Olympiad’s London 2012 Festival. Not only are this group curating an exhibition for 2012 here in Bradford, but their exploration of the collections will result in new and creative interpretation through working alongside a range of arts practitioners including poet Andrew McMillan.
We invited Andrew to work with the group to bring out their responses, through poetry, to selected works at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery.
The labels which accompany the paintings at Cartwright Hall provide visitors with some facts and figures. Who created the work. When it was created. What it is called. Last week our Young Ambassadors re-wrote the rule book as they created alternative labels using poetry created as a group.
Working with poet Andrew McMillan the group began with a contemporary work called The Wanderer by Yinka Shonibare. Andrew encouraged them to think about what it would be like to be aboard that ship, how would it smell, how would it feel and what sounds would there be?
After creating some inventive phrases the group worked together to compile a poem which brought this environment to life.
They then decided to work on a painting from 1886 by Armand Point, called The Arab Weaver. The figures in this piece inspired the group to think about the lives of the people depicted, why are they there, what are they thinking, how are they feeling?
Again, the young people generated words around the painting homing in on exact phrases that conveyed what they thought. The poem that they created was called Historical Threads and spoke about the ‘silky sensual hands’ working away at the yarn requiring ‘old man’s patience.’
At the end of the session the group performed both of their poems to a captivated audience. To see the young people perform their poetry was inspiring and helped us see the poem in a fresh light.