Poetry and Paint

Sketching DOve Cottage Garden, Alison Critchlow

A collaborative enquiry into creative process. Susan Allen (Community Engagement Officer at the Wordsworth Trust) and I have been leading a series of experimental workshops as part of the Trust’s outreach programme . This is an ongoing project which has been evolving and reshaping with each new group. It began as four, day long sessions organised for the West Cumbria Carers group in summer 2018. We used an informal and lively approach to exploring creative process. The project culminated in an exhibition at the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere throughout August 2018. You can watch a short video about the project here

Susan and I have used the format for several different groups and in different situations, adapting it to teach two workshops with a group of men in prison. We used a combination of images from art history, painting and reading the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The men produced a series of poetic paintings like ‘film stills’ inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem which are on permanent display in the education block at HMP Haverigg. The sessions provided a completely new way of engaging the men and showed some impressive results.

Poetry and Paint went on line during the lockdown in 2020. We reshaped the format and offered a series of creative sessions on Zoom in collaboration with the Eden Project Communities. Each session lasted two hours and consisted of a mixture of images and prompts for inspiration, poetry and painting, they were titled ‘The Green and the Microscopic’, ‘The Rainbow and the Journey’, ‘The Cabinet of Curiosities’, ‘From the Doorstep to the Page’. All of these sessions had a practical focus and took inspiration from William and Dorothy Wordsworth’s sharp observation of the world around them. The sessions provided a point of focus at a very difficult moment in time. Further ‘Poetry and Paint’ workshops in 2021 in collaboration with Wordsworth Grasmere have been ‘By Nature Led: Exploring ideas of change and conservation in the Natural World’ and sessions for ‘Natural Connections’ – ‘A finer eye- a heart more wakeful’.