26 Project Award

The 26 Project Award judging panel have, once again, been spoilt for choice. But after much deliberation, we have our winners. Read on to find out whose work has been recognised this year.

Celebrating with last year’s commended Emerging Writers

At 26 we’re here to inspire a love of words, in business and in life. We also want to inspire our members. One of the ways we do this is by encouraging you to take part in our writing projects. In 2016 we initiated the 26 Project Award in recognition of the most outstanding work by contributing writers. It’s worth remembering that anyone participating in a 26 project is in the running for this award

For the 2018 award, the eligible projects were 26 Writers in Residence, 26 Memory Maps and Armistice 100 Days. With 100 writers contributing 100 words (a centena), Armistice was 26’s biggest and most remarkable project to date. It was run in collaboration with Imperial War Museums and culminated in a website hosted by IWM, a book and an exhibition at Eames Fine Art on 11 November 2018, the 100th anniversary of Armistice.

The three of us on the judging panel had a hugely difficult job in choosing a winner, faced, as we were, with a wealth of wonderful writing. The work across all three projects was of a consistently high standard, and yet very varied in style and content.

Inevitably, the depth of human experience conveyed in the Armistice project – with 100 writers each telling the story of a different individual alive during the First World War – influenced the judging.

We are pleased to announce that the overall winner is Miranda Dickinson for Waiting in Watson’s Portrait Studio, Leeds for Armistice 100 Days.

The two highly commended runners-up are Rowena Roberts for Unwritten: Conflict in a dugout grave and Gillian Colhoun for I know you by your name, again for Armistice.

We were also impressed by Hester Thomas’s contribution to 26 Writers in Residence and Helen Jones’s for 26 Memory Maps, and would like to give them both a special mention.

What made Miranda’s centena stand out, among the many moving stories about people who had experienced the Great War, was its simplicity and its sense of capturing a moment, most appropriate given her subject, her great-grandmother Gertrude Evelyn Ellis, was in a photographer’s studio. She had recently married Fred and her new husband has had to return to the Front in France. We feel Gertrude’s hope and fear, as she stands in the studio posing for her wedding portrait alone.

We’ve given the winning writers the heads-up already so this announcement shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise or shock. The advance notice means they’ve had time to come up with some nice words about taking part.

Here’s what Miranda has to say:

“I love being part of 26 and was thrilled to be one of the 100 writers for 26 Armistice. It was an honour to tell my great-grandmother’s story for this fantastic project, which gave such incredible insight into the impact of war on people from all walks of life. I am chuffed to bits to receive this award. Thank you so much!”

And Rowena:

It’s great being part of 26. The writers are so talented, the projects so meaningful, the creativity and sense of community so inspiring.      I particularly enjoyed the Armistice project. There was a real sense of reverence around it; everyone who took part seemed to leave

their writer’s ego at the door and write out of a genuine desire to accurately and respectfully represent their chosen one out of one hundred souls alive at the time of WW1. Some of the other centenas genuinely reduced me to tears, so I feel truly honoured to have my piece recognised.”

Finally, here’s Gillian:

“I’ve participated in a few 26 projects over the years. They’re fantastic because they set creative briefs you won’t find in your day job. They bring people together, nudging you to find new ways to collaborate. They result in artefacts that you can read, touch and share. But the Armistice project felt like something different. These stories from the past were so detailed, so personal and yet so universal. As a collection, they are a shimmering resource to the past that are more relevant than ever to our present. To have Nurse Colhoun’s tribute highly commended among such beautiful writing is a massive but lovely surprise. Thank you 26 for inviting me to take part.”

Stirring words indeed. All three writers underline how much they value the 26 community and what it means to them to take part in a project, such as Armistice.

The 26 Project Awards will be presented at a 26 members’ event in London in mid-May (we’ll be in touch soon with an exact date). The winner will receive a ‘hot metal’ trophy and certificate; and the two runners-up will each receive a certificate. The trophy and certificates are beautifully crafted objects of desire, designed by typographer Phil Cleaver. The two other shortlisted writers will receive their special mentions and no doubt a resounding round of applause. The 26 Emerging Writer Award sponsored by Quiet Room will also be announced at the event.

You are most warmly invited to join us for the evening. If you’re in London, please do come along.

– Sue Evans, Wendy Jones and Martin Lee, 26 Project Award judging panel

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