As you may have gathered, our exhibition 110m Hurdles is now open at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry (until June 10th). We sent poet Julie Boden and photographer Joanna Ornowska into Princethorpe Court to chat to the elderly residents about how they’ve overcome the hurdles they have faced in life – and this wonderfully inspiring exhibition of ten large scale portraits and ten-line poems is the result.

Now we are working with year 5 children from Moseley Primary school. Yesterday we gave each of them a camera, and the mission to – over the half term holiday – photograph an inspiring older person, and talk to them about their top hurdling tips. After half term, the children will be working with Julie to make their notes into poems to exhibit alongside the portraits they have taken.

In part, this project was inspired by Janet’s last visit to see her grandmother, Sylvia, in the care home where she was resident. During the visit, they enjoyed reminiscing about Sylvia haring around on her moped (sporting a hat which Janet remembers as a sort of immensely glamorous pith helmet held in place by a silk headscarf), an activity which she certainly used to get her over many a minor hurdle.

This is sort of why we’re giving people an excuse to photograph and interview their elderly relations and friends – and to learn from them about their top tips for coping with the hurdles life has thrown at them. If you’d like to join in, please do – and add your portraits to the flickr group pool we’ve set up for the project.


For more about the project, see the Talking Birds’ Decathlon project website.