Painting the Poets by Claire Eastgate:
A Portrait Artist’s response to contemporary voices in poetry 

Painting the Poets is an exhibition resulting from portrait artist Claire Eastgate’s engagement with and passion for the work of contemporary poets, whose fresh and diverse voices are contributing to an increasingly vibrant and diverse British poetry scene.

These free and uninhibited voices inspired Eastgate’s artistic response in the form of oil portraits on canvas. The poets, all women, were selected because their words resonate with Eastgate’s own lived and emotional experience. And, more universally, for their diversity, significant impact on the current British and international poetry scene and the important contribution they are making to the narrative on today’s society.

The project has received enthusiastic support from the poets involved, who include English and Scottish Poet Laureates and former National Poet for Wales, Gillian Clarke, who has agreed to open the exhibition, to be launched in London in 2019, with a reading from her new collection Zoology.

Although all the poets featured write in English, their voices are highly individual and reflect a remarkable breadth of cultures and experiences that embraces pop culture, feminism, politics and a wide range of lived experience. 


"Painting the portraits of Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke inspired me to extend the project to create an exhibition that will celebrate the wider number of contemporary women poets currently producing wonderful work. Portraiture has long had an important role in recording those people who contribute something of value to human society. Although women have spoken as poets and writers since the beginnings of history, we know that patriarchy has often silenced women's voices, undervalued the expression of female perspectives and downplayed or erased their contributions from historical canons. It feels a really exciting time in poetry right now - a critical mass of women is speaking out, giving shape and expression to female experience, using poetic forms and attaining public recognition and stature. I wanted my work to honour and mark this." Claire Eastgate 


The participating poets are: Lucy Aphramor, Mona Arshi, Tara Bergin, Emily Berry, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Gillian Clarke, Imitaz Dharker, Carol Ann Duffy, Salena Godden, Jen Hadfeld, Sara Howe, Emma Jones, Jackie Kay, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Liz Lefroy, Lisa Luxx, Sabrina Mahfouz, Hollie McNish, Kim Moore, Helen Mort, Heather Phillipson, Deanna Rodger, Warsan Shire, Joelle Taylor, Kate Tempest, Jane Yeh. (Note: there may be some changes in participating poets through unforeseen circumstances by the time the project is launched in 2019) 

Eastgate’s ambition is to create a legacy project for all. The launch exhibition, which will include readings and performances by some of the poets as well as music and artist talks, will be the corner stone for an interdisciplinary cultural series of events, performances and participatory workshops for adults and for children.

Painting the Poets presents an opportunity to embrace the growing enthusiasm and interest in contemporary poetry and make it accessible to a wider geographic and demographic audience through a touring programme that will combine painting and poetry workshops, poetry readings, with the integration of music, film and dance.

Key to the project is the support and participation of a number national poetry charities and associations in order to deliver the programme whilst creating opportunities for the organisations to benefit from the content of Painting the Poets.

Painting the Poets will launch at a London venue and be experienced across a mix of media channels, thus introducing painting and poetry to new audiences, with an emphasis on younger generations.

Opening in London in 2019, the event will tour in various formats throughout the UK in the following 12- 24 months, working with regional artists and poets. The long-term vision is to take this UK collaborative experience to an international audience and create inclusive workshops with indigenous poets and artists.

Painting the Poets: An art project by Claire Eastgate Copyright 2018

Sylvie Gormezano : Creative Director. email: +44 (0)7785 366492 Sylvie Gormezano is an independent curator with an extensive consultancy background who produces and directs literary and arts projects in the UK and in France.
She is currently the Chair of the Association of Women Art Dealers(AWAD) and is a past Chair of the Trustees of the Museum of Richmond.
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