Ah, childhood. Happy days… or were they sad? Loved, or maybe loathed? The 26 Treasures of Childhood project is giving writers an unusual opportunity to explore their own early days, as part of a major exhibition at London’s Museum of Childhood. Neil Baker gives us an update on how it’s going.
The clattering of keyboards has ceased. The editors’ red pens are at rest. The first phase of the 26 Treasures of Childhood project is complete.
The big idea, in case you’ve not heard, is this. London’s V&A Museum of Childhood will open a major exhibition on the history of modern childhood in October. It asked writers from 26 to give the event a more personal, creative dimension.
The museum will use a selection of objects and curiosities from its archive or on loan to examine how childhood has changed since 1948. There’s a post-war ration book, a Henry Moore sculpture, a Chopper bike, a Primark bra – it’s a real mix.
We paired each object with a 26 member or a child from a local school, with the youngsters rallied by the Ministry of Stories and 26’s Sarah Farley.
The brief to both was the same: write a personal, creative response to your object, and we’ll display your words in the exhibition. Author and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen joined in too.
There was only one rule: the writing must be in the form of a sestude, 62 words exactly (62, of course, is 26 in reverse).
Everyone hit their deadlines and all the work has been edited. There’s a wonderful range of pieces, from witty to wistful, nostalgic to thought provoking. The people at the museum are delighted.
We’d kind of expected the pros to do a good job, and they have. But the quality of the work from the children has stunned the editorial team. There’s some real writing talent down Hackney way.
We’re keeping all of the sestudes under wraps for now, so no sneak previews. But if you visit our project blog you can read interviews with some of the writers, get an insight into their creative process, and learn some odd facts about their own childhoods. (Did you know, John Simmons has a thing about a Viking called Ulf?)
Our next mission is to make as much noise as we can about 26 Treasures of Childhood before the exhibition opens. So if you’ve got ideas for marketing, PR or anything else of a drum-banging nature, big or small, please get in touch.
Neil Baker is one of the four 26 members running 26 Treasures of Childhood. The other three are John Simmons, Fiona Thompson and Emily Bromfield. The project blog is: www.26tc.wordpress.com Fiona would be happy to receive those hot PR and marketing ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org