Newcastle University and Seven Stories’ David Almond Fellowships aim to promote high-quality research into the Seven Stories Collection by supporting award holders to make a study visit to Newcastle. And there are so many amazing collections that you could research! Take a look at Seven Stories’ informative Collections blog for an insight into some of our holdings.
We launched the David Almond Fellowships in 2012 to increase national and international access to Seven Stories’ Collection and build new links with researchers. So far, we’ve awarded 11 Fellowships and over half of our Fellows have come from outside the UK.
Lucy Stone, one of our 2016 award-holders, says of her David Almond Fellowship:
“To take up the pen, pencil or paintbrush proffers the chance to make sense of the beautiful, but also perplexing world into which children are born, grow and find their place as an adult. The Judith Kerr Collection contains a myriad of remarkable drawings, paintings and writings child Kerr crafted pre- and during her family’s exile from Nazi Germany. Thanks to a David Almond Fellowship, I had the wonderful opportunity this summer to examine Kerr’s juvenilia, now part of my doctoral research involving consulting archives across Europe and the US to determine what writing and drawing can offer refugee children. Everyone at Seven Stories and the Children’s Literature Unit were incredibly helpful and supportive; the Fellowship proved invaluable.”
Over 500 people visited Seven Stories over the course of our Big Draw weekend. 2016’s STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival aims to inspire illustrators everywhere to explore creative innovation, enterprise, digital technologies and the arts through drawing.
Now, I think the views of the children and families visiting Seven Stories are pretty important here. After all, they’re the ones who’ll be living and working in Newcastle in fifty years’ time!
So what will Newcastle and Seven Stories look like in 2065? Here’s what Seven Stories’ visitors think…
Building Newcastle Gateshead
Over the course of the weekend, children and families added to our large map of Newcastle and Gateshead to create their vision of Newcastle in 2065.
And their creativity was amazing! Visitors built homes, cultural, sports and science venues, businesses, hotels, transport systems, power stations and several bridges. In fact, the children organically created pretty much everything you’d need in a future city.
I was pleased to see they thought the Angel of the North would still be there, and Seven Stories too!
The house of the future…?
Children drew on (and played in!) our large 3D house of the future. What does this tell us? Perhaps that houses in the future will be more colourful and allow for personalisation. We’ll continue to build in green technologies, and graffiti won’t be going away any time soon…!
The streets of 2065
Dr Emine Thompson and students from Northumbria University came in to run a ‘Your City, You Design It!’ workshop. We looked at the streets of Newcastle in 3D and then participants designed a new Northumberland Street using SketchUp. It’s going to look pretty different in 2065…
A big jigsaw for the Big Draw
Zander Wilson of Open Lab at Newcastle University provided a fun jigsaw activity. The children coloured in wooden RFID enabled jigsaw pieces, before recording a message about their hopes for the future of the city. Zander will be combining these to make a digital jigsaw – I’m excited to see the finished result!
The future of Seven Stories
Our last two activities of the weekend were all about planning the future of Seven Stories. Throughout the weekend, children could draw a new blueprint for our galleries, and Teresa Strachan and the YES Planning students at Newcastle University came to deliver a drop-in workshop all about urban planning. Here’s a plan one of the children came up with!
The children came up with so many interesting ideas about what Newcastle Gateshead will be like in 2065 – I’m looking forward to seeing what changes the future holds!
For applicants: well, for starters, it’s a fully-funded PhD opportunity and Northern Bridge’s focus on academic excellence means that these studentships are very highly regarded.
You’ll have the opportunity to study Seven Stories’ amazing children’s literature collection in depth through your PhD research. This could also lead to placement opportunities with us through Northern Bridge: perhaps your work will feed into a Seven Stories exhibition, or you could help us with collection management tasks, or maybe you could deliver a public event?
For Seven Stories: Seven Stories encourage research on our collection. Academic research really helps to unlock the archive and we love the new ideas that researchers come up with.
For Northern Bridge: By launching the Partnership Awards this year, Northern Bridge are exploring a new way of involving Strategic Partners within the Doctoral Training Partnerships – and we’re excited to be trailblazing with them!
So how will it work?
Step 1: Working with Northern Bridge, Seven Stories have developed a call for applications for the Partnership Award. We’re particularly interested in receiving applications in the following areas: Makers of children’s literature: children’s book history 1750-2000, New adults: the growth of teenage literature, and Children on stage: twentieth century children’s theatre. But if you want to look at Seven Stories’ collections from another angle, we’d still be very interested in hearing from you. Take a look…
Step 2: The application period is now live! Students who are planning to apply for the Seven Stories Partnership Award are encouraged to outline their proposed research project and email this with a CV to firstname.lastname@example.org to register their interest by 18 November 2016.
Step 4: The completed applications will go into the 2017 Northern Bridge Studentship competition and will be assessed alongside all other Northern Bridge submissions. The outcome of the studentship competition will be announced in March 2017.
Step 5: Successful applicants will start their Partnership Award PhD in autumn 2017.
So now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that we get some great applications!
For more information about Northern Bridge and the Seven Stories Partnership Award, visit the Northern Bridge website.
I asked our Santander University Intern, Hannah, to tell us more about her time at Seven Stories.
Hi Hannah! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Hannah, I study English Literature with Creative Writing at Newcastle University. I’m going into my third (and final!) year.
Why did you approach Seven Stories about undertaking a placement?
I have visited Seven Stories many times and I am particularly passionate about children’s literature. I wanted to see how it works from behind the scenes, to get some experience and to see what it would be like to work there.
How did you secure the Santander University Internship?
I emailed Seven Stories to see whether I could do a few weeks’ work experience there. I was ecstatic when they said yes! A few weeks later I found out that I could do it as a Santander University Internship and be paid for it!
So what have you been up to during your internship at Seven Stories?
I started off with two weeks at the Visitor Centre. I spent a lot of time in the Studio helping children make kites, finger puppets, masks and paper boats! I got to chat with children and their families about their favourite books and characters, it was so much fun to get excited about Roald Dahl and J.K Rowling with them.
When things were quieter I surveyed people about their experience of Seven Stories and helped to tidy up the galleries. I got to help out with the Storycatchers’ activities too, including the Daydreamer performance, Little Gallery Explorers and Sensory Stories. It was great seeing how Seven Stories aims to give the best experience to all of their visitors and that they genuinely care about being an inclusive organisation.
The highlight of my time at the Visitor Centre was getting to be Mog the Forgetful Cat! It was hilarious trying to climb into the suit, and seeing the children so excited to meet the ‘real’ Mog was so entertaining. It’s an experience I’ll never forget!
I also had the fantastic opportunity to spend two weeks in the Seven Stories archives with the Collection team. On my first day there I let it slip that Michael Morpugo is one of my favourite authors. Next thing I knew I had been given a box of his letters to sort through!
There were letters from Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, Philippa Pearce and all sorts of other famous and exciting people. It was fascinating to learn more about Morpurgo as a person and I was inspired by the way he has used his influence as a popular children’s writer to actually make a difference in children’s lives, both through campaigning and through the charity ‘Farms for City Children’.
What have you learnt from your Santander University Internship?
I’ve learnt how a museum or organisation such as Seven Stories actually works. I hadn’t considered before that there were so many different tasks involved in the running of the museum, and thus so many varied career opportunities.
It also taught me that I really thrive off working with people. I absolutely loved exploring the archives and the things I got to look at blew me away, but I did miss the interaction with the families that I had at the Visitor Centre.
I also learnt that I’m not as bad at origami as I thought!
What impact will your Seven Stories placement have on your studies at Newcastle University?
My time at Seven Stories has helped reawaken the magic of books for me. Sometimes when you’re studying literature you forget what an incredible experience reading is, it sometimes gets lost in all the analysis.
Spending time listening to children chat about their favourite books has also helped me better understand what children want to read. As I study Creative Writing, I’m hoping to write a children’s fantasy story for my dissertation. I have been thinking a lot about the lack of protagonists in this genre with a disability and this is something I wish to examine through the story and the essay that accompanies it.
I have now seen the immense wealth of unique material that the archive offers for research purposes, and can see how examining items from the Collection would bring a new dimension to my writing.
Do you think we should offer a Santander University Internship again in the future?
Definitely! The Internship itself was absolutely incredible and the financial support from Santander made it possible for me to do a longer placement. I have learnt so much and had an amazing time, so I’d definitely recommend it being offered again!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Just thank you so much for this opportunity; I can’t describe just how brilliant it’s been.
Now, when I think of typical academic events, I think of lectures, Q&As, panel discussions… this was far from it.
Alongside her academic work in the field of children’s literature, Michelle is a Gold Award Girl Scout and works with her students on her literacy immersion programme for children, Read-a-Rama, which was the focus of our workshop.
Michelle’s Read-a-Rama programme uses children’s books as a starting point for activities which engage all the senses. The mantras of Read-a-Ramaare “100% engagement 100% of the time” and “Dead time will kill your program” – and our evening with Michelle certainly lived up to that!
We sang action songs, learnt sign language and had a go at some simulation games. We played being rabbits and foxes, embraced our inner moths and used our sense of smell. We even learnt origami to create our own ‘Not a Boxes’ from Antoinette Portis’ book.
As a former Brownie leader, I certainly learnt a lot and really enjoyed the evening. Thanks Michelle, and we hope to see you again soon!
This was fantastic recognition of our collaboration over the last 10 years, and led Seven Stories (with Newcastle University’s support) to make a Museum Resilience Fund bid to Arts Council England. This was for the Vital North Partnership, a project with the following aims:
To strengthen and scale-up Seven Stories’ partnership with Newcastle University
To build Seven Stories’ brand recognition and reach and develop new income streams
To secure a sustainable business model for Seven Stories as the national home for children’s books
We were delighted to be awarded funding, and the Vital North Partnership began…
From 2015 to 2016
It’s been a busy first year. Here are some of the highlights!
We offered 4 joint public talks on children’s literature with expert Brian Alderson, and author Garth Nix.
Seven Stories’ Living Books project is ongoing: this is a development programme for early years settings and parents to share and enjoy books with young children. Newcastle University’s Centre for Learning and Teaching are helping to evaluate this project.
We jointly offered four David Almond Fellowshipsto support postgraduates and early career researchers to come and consult the Seven Stories collection.
Newcastle University students from the BA in English Literature and BA in Education visited Seven Stories as part of their course, and I gave a seminar on Seven Stories and reading for pleasure for the Educational Psychology doctoral trainees
Now I’ve been in post for 8 months, things are really gathering pace. There are lots of projects in the pipeline and I’m planning to share activities as they happen via this blog. If you’d like more information about anything you’ve read about here, get in touch!