CHILDREN’S LITERATURE royalty, including Sir Michael Morpurgo, Beverley Naidoo and Nick Sharratt, joined Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books to launch a campaign aiming to raise £85,000 by December 2018 to build a new permanent gallery and micro-archive to improve access to Seven Stories’ rich and diverse children’s literature collection.
Authors and illustrators including Michael Foreman, Nicholas Allan, Axel Scheffler and Tony Mitton also attended the exclusive event at the October Gallery in Bloomsbury on Thursday 27th September 2018 to officially launch the ambitious new project to fund a permanent gallery and micro-archive space in The National Centre for Children’s Books.
Michael Morpurgo is one of Britain’s greatest living children’s authors. His work spans 40 years with a career that has seen the publication of over 150 books for children, traversing wide-ranging topics that explore historical events, natural history and the environment, adventure and family life.
Speaking about the Seven Stories’ collection at the event, Michael Morpurgo said “I have known Seven Stories for a number of years and admired the way that it has worked quietly and diligently to fill an obvious gap in our culture by founding a National children’s literature archive and by using it to make amazing exhibitions.
“Children are sensitive and intelligent,” adding wryly that “they lack only two things – size, and a degree of life experience. Books encourage children to ask questions and the great thing about Seven Stories is that they provide a facility for children to access the difficulties and the joys of the world and encourage them to question what they see.
“One of the reasons I was so happy that Seven Stories took all of my stuff is because we really have to encourage children to find their own voice. I was brought up to think that writers are all brilliant, really clever geniuses and they’re not, they’re not – they’re storytellers. They’re really good liars. Yes, you have to have a way with words and confidence so that you can tell your story, but that comes with practice – you have to take the fear out of it and let children tell their stories.
“Handing over my archive was a big event. It was a relief, after all, 40 years of my life are wrapped up in these books and I didn’t know what to do with them. They sat in files alongside work which I have started and didn’t finish, so there really was a record of a story makers life there. I did some research on Seven Stories and found that this was going to be a place that the work of many writers and illustrators and poets would be – I would be with my friends. There is something rather wonderful about it all being collected together, and this being the repository of so much of children’s book writing from the past 80 years. I just thought Seven Stories was the right place for my collection to be, I knew that children were going to have access to it so I thought this would be the best thing to do, and I was right.”
Sally Pelham, chair of Seven Stories’ board of trustees said; “When Seven Stories was first established back in 1996, many people thought that the idea of creating an archive of children’s literature, from scratch, with no money, was complete and utter madness. One thing that I’ve learnt is that Seven Stories is a triumph of ambition over means. And here we are.
“We have a collection of national importance, including the works of over 270 authors and illustrators, who entrust their lives to us. When work comes to Seven Stories it’s not the end of the creative process, it’s the start of a new journey inspiring creativity in the next generation.
“Our next project is to build a collection gallery and micro-archive so that for the first time the public can have access to this wonderful collection. We want to challenge the cultural norm that the curatorial process and creation of work is done by adults. This new gallery will show that the creative process is messy, a picture books doesn’t come out fully formed, there are so many steps along the way and that is very liberating for people to realise.
“The gallery and micro-archive are an important part of our vision; and we have a big vision. We believe that our work builds bridges between communities and between generations so that the lives of young children and their families are culturally and compassionately enriched, leading to greater wellbeing, citizenship, aspiration, attainment and a lifetime of stories. And that might sound ambitious, that’s because it is. We need your help to raise £85,000 by the new year so we can open a new gallery in summer 2019. You’ve all got a part to play in Seven Stories’ continuing story and ensuring that this rich literary heritage continues to engage and inspire generation after generation and, in doing so, changes lives.”
Kate Edwards, Seven Stories’ Chief Executive said, “Our fundraising campaign aims to raise £85,000 to realise our vision. Not only will this fund help us to design and build the new gallery, it enables us to work with Young Producers – young people from our local area – to join us as co-curators and designers, making sure that young people’s voices and ideas are integral to the exhibits. Seven Stories’ home in Newcastle sits adjacent to wards where families experience some of the highest deprivation levels in the UK, with 1 in 3 children living in poverty, and so it’s vital that we create more opportunities for children and young people to take part in creative activity, leading to increased self-confidence and better relationships with friends. Seven Stories will contribute to a joint effort by the wider cultural sector to make Newcastle and Gateshead a brilliant place to be young.”
The Collection gallery and micro-archive will be located within Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle upon Tyne and will invite visitors of all ages to explore the Collection up close. Workshops, Collection-inspired discussion and facilitated archive handling sessions with children, young people and adults will take place, with opportunities for the views and experiences of visitors to contribute directly to the curation and interpretation of the Collection and displays.
To find out more about being part of the campaign please contact Amanda Beckham, Fundraising & Development Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sarah Lawrance, Collections Director (email@example.com).