📷 Original image from BNF Paris (French National Library)
Engraving by Francois Boucher after Antoine Watteau, Woman on swing seen from the back, 1728
On the warm evening of 20 April, I had the chance to facilitate a workshop during the Late event of the Wallace Collection in Marylebone.
The specific theme of the night was Europe : A Bridge to the Continent. All the activities and performances were bearing a connection with Europe, which mirrored the collection.
I soon came up with the idea of a creative writing activity. I have had a keen interest in linguistics for a long time and learning new words is a constant thrill and one of my most enjoyed mental food.
I also wanted to offer an activity where participants would feel free to write whatever was coming through their pencil and from where they would leave with something: a new word, but also hopefully a little sense of thrill and calm after a few minutes of simply indulging into writing.
The event took place in the landing of the gallery’s staircase, within a striking architecture and bathing into a soft light.
The activity was based on European words with no direct translation into English (around 50). The participants were invited to pick a paper where a word – in one of the many languages from Europe – was written. From there, they could create a personal piece of writing. The words were written vertically so that the participant could write an acrostic – where each letter of one word forms one letter of each line.
This allowed the merging of words from other European languages with English words. The choice of acrostics is the reason why the workshop was called Am Stram Gram Pic & Pic Acrostic, which is a play on words in France, just like Eenie Meenie Miney Mo.
Also, I had displayed cards with details of works of art from the Wallace Collection, from which the participants could draw inspiration, if necessary.
I was grateful to present the activity with my friend Kelly Roberts, who is a drama facilitator, spoken words artist, poet and part of the Shut Down Collective. She shares the same passion for words as I do and is always keen to engage in workshops that bring people into a creative zone.
We were lucky to receive so many responses and eager to read each of them. It was indeed a beautiful sight when people were unfolding their paper, discovering the word, having a seat and taking the time and the headspace to compose, pouring their ideas and then being open to share it with us.
The pieces were displayed throughout the evening on a screen and I have been collecting all of them into a book. I am currently finalizing the editing.
📖 Coming up soon!
I am also hoping to facilitate this activity again in another context, gathering a variety of written pieces and sharing a privileged moment of creativity.
Finally, I would simply like to thank Nancy Ncube (L&P producer of SDD) for her constant support and her attention to my project, as well as Rosemary Cronin (artist and curator of the event) for her feedback and for offering me a chance to share my practice.