Sculpture Poems activity

Alison Smith

Our latest Art at Home activity has been created as part of Children's Art Week, and the Week 3 theme of literacy and creative writing.

All art has a story behind it. When looking at a piece of art, we can all create our own story, exploring what it means to us. We're challenging you to look, think and write to explore your ideas about the three sculptures we've chosen. Follow our writing activities to generate ideas, then turn these into poems or short stories.

The Challenge

Write poems or short stories about three sculptures. Use the activities below to come up with ideas.

The Inspiration

We've chosen three sculptures for you to write about. Two are from our current exhibition, Paloma Varga Weisz: Bumped Body, and one is an early piece by our founder Henry Moore. Choose one, or write about all three!

Sometimes an artist will tell us what their work means, but often they want us to make up our own minds. Art is subjective - it means something different to all of us - so there are no wrong answers, and we can all find our own meanings in it.

People have been writing poetry about art for thousands of years. "Ekphrasis" is an Ancient Greek word for a poem written about a piece of art. In an ekphrastic poem, the writer describes what they see in the painting or sculpture, and what they think is happening.

Get writing!

Look carefully at the image of the sculpture, and use these activities to come up with ideas for your piece.

Do a 'free write' for each of the questions below. In a free write, you should write down as many things as you can think of in a short time. Don't think too much, or worry about what you're writing. It doesn't need to rhyme, or even make sense! Spend about a minute on each question (you can time yourself if you like).

  1. What can you see? Write down a list of as many words or phrases as you can to describe the shapes, forms, objects, textures and materials in the piece.
  2. How does it make you feel? Stare at the image and write down whatever words or phrases pop into your head.
  3. What does it remind you of? Start by writing 'it's like a...' then complete the sentence as many times as you can.
  4. What's it about? Write down as many words or phrases as you can that describe what YOU think this sculpture is about. Remember it doesn't need to make sense, or go together - come up with lots of different ideas!

You should now have lots written down. Read through what you've written and turn these ideas into a poem or story. If you're writing a poem, remember that they don't always need to rhyme! It doesn't need to be long, but try to write at least 6 lines.

Share your creations

We'd love to hear you poeams and stories! Share them with us online (or ask an adult to help you) on our social media channels:

Instagram: @henrymooreinstitute
Twitter: @HMILeeds

Need more inspiration?

“The town does not exist except where one black-haired tree slips up like a drowned woman into the hot sky. The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.”

Poet Anne Sexton on Van Gogh's The Starry Night

You can find more examples of poems about art on Google Arts and Culture, and there are lots of great poetry ideas and resources available at Poetry Foundation.

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 1 - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment