Author: Lucy Culkin

As part of an exciting new writing residency, Heart of Stone, Portland Museum is working with poet, writer and creative facilitator, Sarah Acton, to bring to life the heritage of Portland’s Stone Quarries, including real and imagined lives shaped by Portland stone past present and future, through creative writing, poetry and performance.

The project, in partnership with the Jurassic Coast Volunteer Network which receives funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Coastal Communities Fund,  will see Sarah based in the Museum once a week from July to mid-October. There will also be a residency table set up in the Stone Room Gallery throughout the duration of the residency, where Museum visitors will be invited to see and experience the museum in a new way through five prompt cards, and encouraged to write and create their own responses to leave and display as part of the project.

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The project takes inspiration from Portland’s local poet and stone mason, Cecil ‘Skylark’ Durston, and his observational poems about working the stone, and life on the Island before the mechanisation of the quarries. His reflections were recorded as part of the Look Stranger! TV series in an episode called Heart of Stone (1971), from which the project takes its name. Sarah will be collecting memories and words throughout events at the Museum to weave into a new performance piece that will be inspired by the residency. You can meet Sarah and listen to readings from her new work-in-development at the end of the residency on Thursday 24th October 2-3pm in the Stone Room of the Museum.

Everyone is welcome to come and participate in residency events including Discussion Cafes: time to sit and share memories and stories of stone, quarries and Portland, or bring your favourite poems on any subject to read aloud and share at the Poetry in the Garden Afternoons. The events are free, so please come and enjoy, and bring a flask of tea and a cushion/ blanket! (If it is raining the event will move indoors).

Sarah Acton is the Jurassic Coast (UNESCO) World Heritage Site poet-in-residence. Sarah creates participatory poetry and creative writing activities under the name Black Ven, including site-specific walks and guided activities and performances that invite participants into an active and enquiring relationship between their creativity and the natural landscape.

For details of all dates when Sarah is at the Museum, please visit the front desk of the Museum and talk to one of the volunteers.

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