What is it that prompts you to really pay attention to an object in a museum, rather than letting your gaze skim across the surface? It could be a well-written label – or perhaps it could be a story, an anecdote or a poem…
26 is a not-for-profit organisation made up of writers, editors, publishers and others who work with words. It pursues its aim of ‘inspiring a greater love of words, in business and in life’ through all kinds of activities, the most visible of which is a series of exhibitions and books that ask writers to respond to objects, places, artworks, stories and more.
26 Children’s Winters is the latest 26 exhibition, currently on show at the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood; I was one of 26 writers invited to respond to a specially chosen object from the museum’s collection. Each of us was asked to create a ‘sestude’: the signature literary form of 26, this can be a poem or a piece of prose, but must consist of exactly 62 words. It’s quite a challenge – especially when your allocated object initially fails to inspire! I’ve written here about the process of creating my sestude.
The end result took an unusual form that made things tricky for the exhibition designers – but as you can see they did a great job of accommodating my awkward piece:
And here’s one of my favourite sestudes, by writer Lucy Harland:
The project will raise money for It’s Good 2 Give, a small Scottish charity supporting children and young people with cancer. The sestudes are a really engaging way of encouraging people to look closely at each object, and prompting memories and personal associations – and you can see them on show until 31 March 2016.