‘Words at the Black Swan’ is a regular ekphrastic writing group co-founded by curator Kim wood and writer Crysse Morrison that takes place at the Black Swan Arts gallery in Frome. It offers an opportunity for participants to discuss and respond to works on show there, in writing.
Over a coffee at Divas, the art centre cafe, Crysse and I planned the first ‘Words at the Black Swan’ writing workshop. It would be open to anyone, to come to the gallery and respond to works of art in words, a form of ‘ekphrasis’. Crysse was already familiar with poetic ekphrasis and introduced me to the term. It was interesting to discover that this practice I had been interested in for years, actually had a name. We were both excited by the new venture and Crysse agreed to lead the first workshop. As a member of the Black Swan Arts Programming Committee I was already developing exhibitions and activities for the gallery. The writing workshops seemed an ideal opportunity to reach out to the flourishing community of writers in the town and bring a new perspective into the gallery. The trustees agreed to provide the gallery space for the workshop free of charge and to the written works being displayed in the centre.
The title of the workshops ‘Words at the Black Swan’ was chosen to define the process without labeling it as ‘poetry’. It was thought this would allow scope to develop away from traditional lyrical responses to paintings. The first session was organised to be a response to Charlie Murphy’s exhibition ‘Retort’. Following a hastily designed logo, the workshop was promoted via the Black Swan Arts website, posters in the centre and via a newly set-up a facebook page: www.facebook.com/wordsattheblackswan. Crysse sent an email invitations to her community of writer friends and posted it to her blog.
On Monday 14th March 2013 the inaugural ‘Words at the Black Swan’ writing workshop took place in the main gallery of the Black Swan Arts centre in Frome. Six eager participants arrived, pens and paper at the ready. They had come to the gallery to respond in words to a sculpture installation in glass by artist Charlie Murphy.
I believe I was the only non-writer in the group and so for me it was an extraordinarily exciting experience, like a very large rock had shifted from the entrance to a new wonderland. I found most pleasure in listening to other participants’ thoughts and perceptions around the artworks as well as being able to share my own. This dialogue between writer and writer and writer and artwork engendered a feeling of deeper engagement with the artworks, a kind of special, enhanced relationship. I wondered how it made the other participants feel and if our co-operative musings made them feel more connected to the exhibition.
The next session was scheduled for less than two weeks later Sunday 24th March 2013 and in response to Christopher Bucklow’s show ‘Talking about Painting’ – how appropriate.
Kim Wood 2015
Here is our first call for participants…
Words at the Black Swan – Writing Workshop (Free Pilot Session)
Keats did it – Auden did it – even Wendy Cope did it, and writers throughout the ages have found inspiration in visual art. In recognition of this cultural affinity, Black Swan Arts has launched ‘WORDS at the BLACK SWAN’, a group which will meet during each exhibition to express personal responses to the art work. There will be an opportunity for these poems and thoughts (if submitted) to be displayed next to the gallery throughout the exhibition and featured on the Black Swan website.
Following a thoroughly stimulating and fun first pilot session on Monday 11th we will be running our second free taster session on:
Sunday 24th March, 4pm – 5.30
in response to Christopher Bucklow’s new show ‘Talking about Painting’.
The workshop will be led by experienced prize-winning poet Rose Flint. Bring pen and paper and meet at the gallery – entry through the shop ‘SEED’. Some refreshments and cake will be provided.
Places are limited so if you are interested in stretching your literary muscle and taking part in this exciting new collaboration then please contact:
Crysse Morrison on 07974796823 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or, Kim Wood on 01985 844183 email:email@example.com
We have posted some of the first sessions responses on the wall outside the gallery (awaiting frames) and in a folder inside the gallery. If you want to have a look at some of the words you can on the facebook event page here: view facebook event.