Poetry comes to life

St. Michael's students make art from poetry


Clouds surround the clock tower

keeping the town oblivious as men

staring at camel hump roads

waiting for the red bus.


The bus stops at Kensington Road waits for the tall dark man

who brings with him an old lady:

Time will not wait.



– Harrison Kim, St. Michaels University School student

In any other writing class, the poem (above) would be a simple, straightforward assignment. But at St. Michaels University School, it’s just the starting point.

A group of English students taught by Susan Stenson and an art class led by fellow teacher Jennifer McIntyre have teamed up for a unique project that has student artists creating original works based on the poetry of their peers.

“I wanted to do something where we pulled art and writing together,” said McIntyre. “And I thought we should be trying to get our students into a commercial gallery as well, so that they have the experience and they have the opportunity.”

That’s where Eclectic Gallery comes in. McIntyre, who has shown her own work at the Oak Bay gallery, approached the owners with an idea for a unique exhibit titled Visual Poetry, featuring her class’ work along with the poetry that inspired it. All the student art will be available for sale, with all proceeds going to a pair of charities: War Child Canada and AMMA International.

All of the art works are reduction prints, which the students made by carving into a surface in layers then painting the raised portions, creating a multi-coloured finished product. The style is used to create multiple copies of the same piece, which in this case allows the students to potentially sell some of their work while retaining a copy for themselves. For this project, McIntyre said, each student produced between three and six copies.

But for this assignment, each print needed a piece of poetic inspiration. Stenson’s class wrote poems themselves – based on existing art hanging in the classroom – and each art student chose a piece that spoke to them.

Stop, by Harrison Kim, immediately stood out for Alex Davies. Its British imagery called to mind memories of Davies’ childhood.

“When he mentioned a bus, I kind of saw a London bus and that kind of scene in downtown London,” said Davies, who is originally from England.

The final work, simply titled Time, surprised him. “It actually turned out a lot better than I thought it would,” Davies said, though he joked that Kim, a friend of his, will “probably say it has nothing to do with the poem.”

For McIntyre, the best part about the project is the chance students will have to get their work in front of the public.

“Some of them are putting together portfolios for art school, and for post-secondary, and it means that on their CVs or resumes or applications that they’ve got an exhibition history,” she said. “I think it’s exciting for them to get their work off campus and out into the public eye.”

Visual Poetry runs from Jan. 9 to 14 at Eclectic Gallery, 2170 Oak Bay Ave. An opening reception will held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 9. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

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