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Whose story is it anyway?

Alice MSalmon31 January 2014

 This Wednesday, 29 January, UCL Museums and Collections, and UCL Library Special Collections, teamed up with the literary charity First Story to deliver our annual creative writing event. Around 90 students from local London secondary schools spent the afternoon exploring and writing about our collections.

Students from Lambeth Academy absorbed in their work in The Rock Room, UCL

Students from Lambeth Academy absorbed in their work in The Rock Room, UCL

Events like these remind me of how lucky I am to work as an educator in museums. As museum professionals, we spend a long time thinking about how to tell stories (stories of our museums, stories of our collections, stories of our objects, stories of the people that owned said objects,  etc, etc…I could go on) but it is so refreshing to hand the role of the storyteller over to students, who can provide us with a totally fresh take on the collections we know so well.  The results were, quite simply, fantastic. Below is just one example of the quality of work produced from the visit:

Jack Isaaz –La Grotteri, from King Solomon Academy, was inspired to think about his heaven and hell through  working with the UCL Library Special Collections and, in particular, by Botticelli’s  illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy:

 For it is All that I Need

 Sensations seldom felt grip the air.

 More stains of darker, saturated hues. But still

 All feels grey. Unlike once before, the silence

 Is now silent: sounds of death, dead

 Vibrations permeate the dust that you hear

 And breathe. I can’t bear the nothing that

 I never had. You don’t see for there is nothing

 To observe.

 

She smiles again once more, though not one thing

 Could ever make one forget such a sight.

 The sun shines on the clouds and as it should,

 It does not shine on us. We are left with

 The fray of the familiar. The cold that embraces us is

 No foe, cooling our skin with its inviting breath.

 I imagine the park adjacent to the grass where I

 Lay down gazing at nothing because it is nothing that

 I’ve become accustomed to. The fun nothings I need.

 

 Raindrops now, stain the tar that bleaches the roads I’ve

 Walked upon my entire life. The buildings are calmed

 As their shadows find homes with the darkening

 Surface. There is no need for thought or speech for

 All is as it should be. I imagine

 Her smile.

 Jack Isaaz –La Grotteri, King Solomon Academy

To find out more about the work that First Story do you can visit their website: http://www.firststory.org.uk/

Alice Salmon is a Senior Access Officer in the Access and Learning Team for UCL’s Museums and Public Engagement Department.

Looking Through the Eyes of an Orangutan

Alice MSalmon25 October 2013

I am going to start this blog off by openly admitting that I am breaking social media convention by blogging about an event that took place nine months ago. *audible gasps*. Yes, I do really mean nine months ago. However, there is good reason for this. In February this year, UCL’s Museums and Collections, and the Library Special Collections, worked in collaboration with the UCL English Department and literary charity First Story, to deliver a creative writing day  for 100 students from local non selective secondary schools.  Today, the schools’ poetry anthologies have landed on my desk and they are definitely worth blogging about.

A selection of poetry anthologies by The First Story Group

The anthologies by First Story Group that are happily sitting on my desk.

(more…)