Painting at Gallery Oldham is centre of attention for poet’s video

By Lily Chick

A PAINTING at Gallery Oldham has become the centre of attention for a project about a poet’s interpretation of art.

ART UK launched the ‘Art Speaks’ project to challenge four poets to create an original piece based on a painting of their choice from

Newcastle resident and poet Rowan McCabe chose ‘Bonjour, Pierrot!’ which was painted by Ethel Wright and is displayed in Gallery Oldham.

Rowan next to the painting by Ethel Wright (Picture thanks to Art UK/Northern Town)

The character in the painting Pierrot first appeared in the seventeenth century in a Molière play, ‘Dom Juan’.

Young artist Ethel had seen the character both on the stage and at the students’ fancy dress balls, and decided to make the character familiar to English audiences.

Rowan’s interpretation of her painting has been released in a film for the project.

The poet, who was immediately drawn to the painting, said: “The minute I saw it, it struck a chord. The idea of the clown who’s hiding a lot of sadness – I think we all know someone like that.

“I think it’s a sign of a good painting – I didn’t need to know the backstory, I could feel it from the start.”

Rowan is the world’s first and only door-to-door poet who visits homes and asks people what is important to them and then writes poems about it.

Since he started performing poetry in 2011 he has become involved with many projects around the country. In 2016, he received a grant from Arts council England to tour his project around the North East.

Gallery Oldham provides a wide range of exhibitions and activities targeted at different audiences of all ages within Oldham and the surrounding area.

Exhibitions feature artworks and items from local artists as well as newly commissioned art, international work, touring exhibitions and work produced with local communities.

Find out more online: and read a full interview with Rowan here.


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