Back on 8 September, an eager group of writers gathered at The Bean Barn to take part in a new project called ‘Artists inspire artistry’. It’s based on an idea that has been buzzing around in the Ballarat Writers Inc. box of ideas for a few years: a roving recital of new works written in response to art. Roving because the works are read in front of the art that inspired them – in this case, selected from the soon-to-open exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, ‘Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art’.
When earlier this year I was approached by the gallery to offer suggestions for events that could run in conjunction with their exhibition, up popped the idea. I figured we could spread the love even further still, so invited staff from the University of Ballarat’s School of Education and Arts to participate. I recruited passionate academics in literature and spoken performance. So now the project involves the Art Gallery, the University and literature/arts students, and members of Ballarat Writers Inc: a fine developmental opportunity for local aspiring writers and a ripper cross-arts collaborative endeavour. Fabulous.
From mid-September to late October, 11 writers and poets are learning about and practising ekphrastic writing, workshopping ideas, visiting the gallery, and writing writing writing. They will also be treated to workshops in presentation. Their brief: to produce a new piece of writing in response to something from the exhibition.
The project culminates in two public recitals in the exhibition space on Friday 9 November and Tuesday 13 November. You’ll even be able to buy a copy of the totally unique, limited-edition anthology of new writing that will include full colour plates of the artwork associated with each poem, vignette or story. Just a little exciting!
Given the exhibition title, perhaps a more appropriate collective noun might have been a ‘pod of poets’. Maybe?