Picture the Poet

Past beyond the gallery archive
5 May - 28 June 2014

Fusion Digital Gallery


  • Partnership exhibition

Discover the faces of poets working today, including Benjamin Zephaniah, Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy, in this digital exhibition from the National Portrait Gallery.

Alongside the exhibition, you can hear Andrew Motion talking about his life as a poet and why poetry is important to him. Madeleine Waller, the photographer who made his portrait (above), speaks about how the portrait came about and how both the photographer and the sitter contribute to making a portrait. She also talks about her series of portraits of poets included in the exhibition.

The exhibition is introduced by Paul Moorhouse, 20th Century Curator at the National Portrait Gallery who talks about the photographic portraits of poets in the Collection.


5 MAY — 28 JUNE 2014*

*The exhibition will not be on view on
Sunday 1 June and Saturday 7 June


Benjamin Zephaniah by Donald MacLellan 29 August 1996 © Donald MacLellan



Picture the Poet is a three-year project, a partnership between the National Portrait Gallery, the National Literacy Trust and Apples and Snakes.


The exhibition is a selection of photographic portraits of poets from the National Portrait Gallery Collection. With help from the Gallery's Youth Forum the selection was made to include some of the best loved poets working today by some of the most important photographers. The Gallery has been actively collecting photographs for forty years and holds over 250,000 photographs making it the most important collection of photographic portraits in the country.


An extensive schools programme based around raising literacy in schools is being led by the National Literacy Trust giving local schools the opportunity to be involved in the project. Apples and Snakes, the performance poetry organisation, are working with groups of young people and local writing organisations to explore poetry and photography. Look out for events taking place at the Forum related to the exhibition in the coming weeks.


The exhibition will tour to the following venues:GravesArtGallery– Sheffield, Harris Museum & Art Gallery – Preston, The Collection –Lincoln, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Tullie House –Carlisle. The Forum is the only venue where the exhibition will be in digital form.


National Literacy Trust is a national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in theUK, research and analysis make the National Literacy Trust the leading authority on literacy.

Apples and Snakes is the country's leading organisation for performance poetry. It works with top class poets, storytellers, lyricists and rappers.

Andrew Motion by Madeleine Waller April 2006 © Madeleine Waller 


your own poems or thoughts about the portraits or the poets in the exhibition to see them on the twitter wall.

This project has been funded by Arts Council England's Strategic Touring Fund. Special thanks to organisations involved in shaping and contributing to the Programme: Writers Centre — Norwich, City College Norwich, BBC Voices, Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, the Garage.