nickowen

Witney, United Kingdom

Nick worked for 30+ years in psychotherapy and education. / He now creates poetry and pictures / He also shoots weddings and other major...

Poetry and Pictures on Red Bubble

Hello Bubble people,

I want to introduce you to my combined arts work in poetry and pictures

I like this place
Though cyberspace
It has a certain kind of grace
Somewhere to show my work
And face
The wider world

I think bubble may be a better place for display of “poetry and pictures” as a combined art, and hopefully, will start to lead a group of that title here in the bubble.

Here is some information about the work I have been doing over the last few years for those interested in taking part.

“Poetry and Pictures”

A Twenty First Century Participation Art

Background

In 2002 Nick Owen founded “Wychwood Poets”, a group of writers and photographers based in the North Cotswolds area with members in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. The group met to read and discuss poetry and pictures on the first Tuesday of every month at Nick’s home. Meetings are now in the old hall restaurant, The Blue Boar Inn, Chipping Norton.

This is a new combined art form called “Poetry and Pictures”, which combines a poem with a photograph, graphic image, painting or group of photographs.

“Poetry and Pictures” became an international web based activity in 2006. This group has grown rapidly and now has over 500 members. Nearly two thousand poem pictures are displayed online. It has expanded into a wide range of forms, many of which combine written poetry with graphic imagery. See

http://flickr.com/groups/poetryandpicturesinter...

Wychwood Poetry and Pictures

In May 2006 a real-world local Poetry and Pictures group was formed called “Wychwood Poetry and Pictures” based on a previously web-based group of the same. Currently there are 9 members. It has formed itself into a Trust with a programme of Poem-Picture Suppers starting this summer.
http://flickr.com/groups/wychwoodpoetryandpictu...

Walking in Wychwood.

At Christmas time 2006 Nick started leading guided walks in the Wychwood Forest area, where he coached people in taking photographs and writing poetry about the natural world. This picks up on the recent observations made by the BBC among other organisations, that going walking in nature could be a better alternative than prescription drugs for the very high numbers of people suffering from depression in the U.K. The idea, in simple terms, is to involve people within reach of the ancient forest of Wychwood in exploring the rural landscape, and recording their impressions in poetry and pictures. Participants are encouraged to share their work on-line. There is a web log which records events, activity, poetry and pictures associated with the walk. There will be a new programme starting spring 2008
http://wychwoodwalks.blogspot.com/

Poetry and Pictures England

Nick Owen aims to develop P&P activity all over the country, but focusing in his local area initially. Eventually there will be local P&P groups just as there are golf clubs and bridge clubs. There is now a growing “Poetry and Pictures England” group on flickr. http://flickr.com/groups/poetryandpicturesengland/

To develop the new art form Nick has taken on the following activities.

1) School lectures, workshops and field trips

The model for this has been tested on St Mary’s Primary School Chipping Norton, where a group of sixty Year 6 students enrolled in a three stage programme, concluding with a display of finished work to parents, staff and fellow students.
Everyone involved felt pleased with this experience, though there were not enough interested to form a club within the school.

An annual prize has been established for secondary school and primary school poetry
and pictures work.

2) Holidaymaker expeditions.

Currently exploring connections with the Blue Boar Chipping Norton

3) Performances in Theatres, Libraries, Colleges and Universities.

There has been a lunch-time performance at the Theatre Chipping Norton. Others are planned at this and other venues. Performances have now happened in Cheltenham, Malvern, Chipping Norton, Droitwich, and Oxford, including Oxford University and the Oxford Fringe Festival.

4) Arts Festival Events.

International Poetry and Pictures was launched in the real world at the Wychwood Festival 2007 in June. Artists from all over the country as well as Germany, Italy, the U.S.A. and Canada had their work presented along with artists from the local area.
.
6) Gallery Exhibitions

To date there has been an exhibition at the Theatre Chipping Norton and during Art Weeks at the Crown and Cushion Hotel Chipping Norton. After Said Business School in Oxford a new exhibition is on at the County Hall, New Road, Oxford.

A projector has been purchased to enable a slide show presentation at a large number of venues. Bookings are now being taken. Ring 01608644929 or
nick@trans-itions.co.uk

7) A major multi-dimensional arts project based in the Wychwood landscape itself.

This is some way off. It will require a partnership with many organisations before it can come to fruition.

8) A mental health project using poetry and pictures as creative therapy.

Nick has a contract to work with clients of Mind in west Oxfordshire to do P&P work.
Work is now complete at the Mind Project and a gallery is online of work done by group members. http://www.flickr.com/groups/mindpoetryandpictu...

10) A terrestrial journal or yearbook

We are currently looking for a publisher.

11) Courses in P&P

Courses are now run with the Animation Station in Banbury and in Woodstock and Chipping Norton.

Poetry and Pictures: a manifesto.

From the earliest days of printing, a world of visual images with thought and feeling, juxtaposed with text is part of the western way of enculturation, to help in the process of translating meaningless ciphers, squiggles on a page, into the stuff of inner experience, into understood written words, leaping from the page or screen into constructs of a mental world. I will never forget the moment when words and images entwined and danced for me as I began to understand written text for the first time. It was like the moment when stumbling and sinking transform into skiing and swimming as learning transforms to achieving.
The real father of Poetry and Pictures as a genre has to be William Blake, a visual artist by trade, and one of the greatest poets in the English language. More recently, the last poet laureate, Ted Hughes, set the ball rolling for modern artists with his book the ruins of Elmet. He wrote poems specifically for a photographers art works here. In a second book, “River”, he juxtaposed poetry with an artists photographs without connecting them more intimately.

Hughes only wrote the poetry. He collaborated with others to create these poem-picture works. We are encouraging such collaborative work, and are open to both photographers and poets, but we are mostly about creating a combined work created by one author. “Poetry and Pictures” is, I believe, the first attempt to establish the two arts together as a genre for the twenty first century.

Photography has always struggled to establish its credentials as an Art form in its own right. Poetry in turn, has struggled to make a case that it is still relevant to this fast changing world. Much modern writing is as uninspiring as a snapshot from a cheap digital camera. I believe that combining ideas expressed visually with ideas expressed in words can make for a powerful medium of expression, both folk art and high art. The idea is to link a poem with a picture or series of pictures. The two can also blend together into a single visual image, which is both poetry and photography. I am not sure how many variations on the overall theme will emerge. Already there are versions I had not dreamed about. I find the merging of words into visual art in graphic artistry a particularly inspiring form. Poetry condenses experience. A photographer or graphic artist can do the same with a visual image.

Critical evaluation

Poetry and Pictures will receive much unkind critical comment from both poets and photographers. A poetry critic is likely to think that a specific image can only diminish the power of the inner imagery generated by a poem. Sometimes and for some people this will be true. At others it will not. Poets may write in such a way that the two interweave.

Photographers often protest that words detract from the image. But our culture is saturated with low grade imagery, devoid of emotional content. Some images are poetic on their own. Most are not. Individual P&P artists are building their own fascinating, challenging, even riveting approaches to this work. It is much too early to make adequate judgements.

I am indebted to Martin Kimeldorf, a member of the Poetry and Pictures International Group, currently hosted on the flickr website, for the suggestion that we are creating a new folk art. Just as great novels grow out of fairy tales and great symphonies build from folk songs, so we may be able to create works of art at many different levels of merit and complexity. The way we identify ourselves as human beings and relate to each other as people is already being transformed by web formats such as Myspace, Bebo and Facebook as well as blogs and “Livejournal”. Poetry and Pictures can be incorporated into such a web format to create a way for everyone to develop self expression, self affirmation, a new kind of intimacy, friendship and better social relationships. The international group I have formed currently uses the very powerful tools for communication both in words and pictures which is provided by flickr.com. It is not perfect, since it is primarily designed for photo sharing rather than poetry. But the group already has 180 members within a month of starting, and representatives from Europe, North America and Asia.

Addendum
It may take a little time to establish our poetry and pictures version of myspace or similar. Please bookmark this address and check back.
In the meantime I invite you to join Poetry and Pictures International, where all our current work is housed together on flickr.
http://www.flickr.com/groups/poetryandpicturesi...

Biographical note

Nick Owen is a poet, playwright and photographer with over thirty years experience in the field of personal development education, working with all ages from unborn babies and their parents through to old peoples reminiscence groups. He has been a director of a school of psychotherapy and is also director of the OPPERA Trust.
To find out more visit www.trans-itions.co.uk

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