York Art Gallery houses European paintings spanning more than 600 years and works range from 14th century Italian panels and 17th century Dutch masterpieces to Victorian narrative paintings and 20th century works by LS Lowry and David Hockney. The gallery’s collection of British studio ceramics in its Centre of Ceramic Art is one of the most important in the UK, containing more than 5,500 objects. The gallery was winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award in 2016.
Poet Antony Dunn worked with the gallery and year 9 students from The Joseph Rowntree School in York. An evocative and enigmatic contemporary statue of a bleeding young boy from the exhibition Flesh, was selected as the stimulus for the development of an ambitious play script. Antony skilfully built up the students’ confidence in creative writing through a series of manageable steps, including fun descriptions of classmates and descriptive poems using the five senses, one line at a time. The students then explored narratives that may have been relevant to the character, engaging in drama games, role play, and using different voices to tell the stories.
The students’ writings coalesced into a piece of drama that was performed in the gallery in front of the artwork. An emotional, personal, yet collective response to an encounter with an artwork.