Of Mutability: Ekphrasis & the Body

Of Mutability: Ekphrasis & the Body

Explore a range of creative approaches to ekphrasis, with a focus on inclusive representation.

The workshop title is taken from Jo Shapcott’s collection (Faber & Faber, 2011) – which is itself taken from Helen Chadwick’s multimedia artwork (1986). From Keats to Bishop to Shapcott, we’ll look at how a poem can transcend its source, and whether it matters if the reader is familiar with the work referenced. 

Over the course of two half-days, in a playful and supportive space, and with an emphasis on the practical, we’ll develop tools to harness the language and image of the body. We’ll consider artists whose work focuses on body and identity – including Jo Spence, Heather Agyepong, Donald Rodney, Paula Rego, and Frida Kahlo – and we’ll experiment with ways of re-appropriating imagery to reflect the truth of our own lives. 

The first session will offer generative writing exercises using a cornucopia of prompts. We’ll learn how to employ visual literacy techniques, including audio description and slow-looking, to develop an iconography and to craft work that resonates with our own experiences. 

Make a day of it. Take advantage of the abundance of art venues a stone’s throw from Somerset House, if you care to, and continue independently into the afternoon, armed with a worksheet of suggestions for in-situ writing. In the second session, a week later, there’ll be an opportunity to workshop and develop your new ekphrastic body writing. 

2 half-day sessions on consecutive Saturdays: 10.30am – 1pm on 23 & 30 July. Sessions for this course will take place at Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA.

If you would require any specific support or adjustments to be able to access this course, please get in touch with us on [email protected] to discuss your needs and we will be happy to help.

To apply for a concession rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected] Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. More information about how our In-Person Courses work can be found on the In-Person Courses page. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected] 

Image credit: Oscar Keys 

About Claire Collison View Profile

Claire Collison has been exploring identity and representation in her own work for 30 years. She was Visual Arts editor for Disability Arts Magazine, and helped develop a Visual Literacy programme for The Photographers’ Gallery. Claire now specialises in facilitating writing that responds to visual art and engages with artists’ practices – most recently for the Government Art Collection. A breast cancer survivor, she was awarded the Big Draw Festival prize for her life modelling monologue, Truth is Beauty, performed in venues across the UK. Her poetry is widely published. She was a winner of the inaugural Women Poets’ Prize. 

'Coming to the Poetry School has changed my creative life by getting me to write poetry for the first time since I was a teenager, and giving me confidence in my writing abilities.'

- Summer 2021 Survey Response

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