An afternoon telling stories to children at BMAG was great fun. Using stories they had developed themselves based on the paintings in the Pre-Raphaelite galleries, students told stories to small groups of children, and we also read a few fairy tales and poems which were relevant to different paintings. It made me think about the different uses that stories have – and about how we can look at a painting and see a completely different story, if we want. The children who joined in were fascinated, thankfully! I spoke to a father of three girls who said he was delighted to have found an event which engaged his girls in art, encouraging them to look closely at the pictures and to think about what might be happening in the paintings, so it was definitely a worthwhile event!
Easter Storytelling event for children of all ages at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
On Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th April, 1-3pm, students from Birmingham City University’s School of English will be telling stories inspired by Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the Pre-Raphaelite Galleries, as part of the Reading Art project. This is a free event and no booking is required – just drop in and find us.
The students attended a storytelling workshop with professional storyteller Dawn Powell, where they learned a range of skills about telling stories. They then developed their own stories based on the Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the gallery. They are new to this but have learned a lot and their stories reflect their own creativity and enthusiasm, and it promises to be an entertaining event! Please come along and see us!
Today we held a storytelling workshop in the Pre-Raphaelite galleries at BMAG. Storyteller Dawn Powell explained to students from BCU School of English how storytelling works, and helped them to develop their own stories around some of the paintings in the collection. As I’ve said before, Pre-Raphaelite paintings are often narrative, not only inspired by literature but with biographical and personal narratives too, and often with layers of symbolism and imagery which inspire further stories. It was this last aspect which came to the fore today: to me, it was a bit strange to hear stories being told which bear no relation to the painting’s stated meaning, but then, these stories are to be told to children, and many of the stories are simply not suitable for children (Medea, for example). And after all, why shouldn’t the paintings be open to interpretation? So the students put their own interpretations on the paintings, making up stories which fitted what they could see, often combining two or more pictures in the gallery. Having become very familiar with the stories of the paintings, including Beata Beatrix, The Last of England and The Proscribed Royalist, I found it really eye-opening to hear students’ creative takes on what these paintings suggested to them, from stories about children who opened a forbidden box, to the journey of a postman. In the Easter holidays the students will be telling stories to children in the galleries, and I can’t wait to hear them.