Poem Portraits

Poem Portraits is a collaboration between poet Peter Spafford and photographer Lizzie Coombes.
'Just wonderful. So simple, so intense, just right'. (Gwyneth, Cube Choir).
© 2014 Poem Portraits Contact Poem Portraits
For bookings and price information contact: Peter Spafford 07590 028327

What is a Poem Portrait?
The Poem Portrait is a piece of art comprising a poem and a photograph which seeks to capture a person - the sitter or subject - at a particular moment in their life.
View a selection of poem portraits in the slideshow below by moving cursor into picture frame, or by swiping screen on a smartphone / iPad.
  • Stacks Image 131
  • Stacks Image 132
  • Stacks Image 133
  • Stacks Image 159
  • Stacks Image 161
  • Stacks Image 163
  • Stacks Image 165
  • Stacks Image 167
  • Stacks Image 126
  • Stacks Image 128
  • Stacks Image 137
  • Stacks Image 139
  • Stacks Image 141
  • Stacks Image 143
  • Stacks Image 145
  • Stacks Image 147
  • Stacks Image 149
  • Stacks Image 151
To see more please view full gallery.

How does the Poem Portrait work?

The sitter talks with the poet for roughly 30 minutes about a special place, person, or object, after which the photographer takes a series of pictures of the sitter. The poet goes away and writes a draft of the poem, which he carefully checks with the sitter to make sure it 'feels right'.
Stacks Image 113
Who creates the Poem Portrait?
Poem Portraits was conceived by poet Peter Spafford and photographer Lizzie Coombes (aka Betty Lawless). The pair have a long history of working together in a variety of settings, including theatres, museums, libraries, prisons, schools, and community centres.
(Click here for biogs).
Stacks Image 121
Where and with whom does the Poem Portrait work?
Poem Portraits is infinitely adaptable to, for instance: staff teams, hospitals, choirs, literature festivals, societies, schools, residential homes, sports teams. It works as a fun, team-building activity, but equally as well as a record of a particular time and occasion, as an art exhibition, as a focus for conversation and exchange of personal histories.
'How often do you get a chance to talk about yourself and to prance about having great photos taken? I thought the end result was fantastic. It was really interesting to find out things about people that you see every week but don't really know!' (Caz, Cube Choir)
Stacks Image 117
Where has Poem Portraits worked before?
The first Poem Portraits project was part of an Arts Council residency entitled The Gift. Peter and Lizzie completed 56 Poem Portraits with residents of the Deighton/Brackenhall estate in West Yorkshire. Since then they have exhibited 20 Poem Portraits of members of The Cube Choir commissioned by Halifax Festival, as well as 10 more for a neighbourhood association in Leeds.
What are the outcomes for individual participants in a Poem Portraits project?
Each sitter receives both a hard and digital copy of their own Poem Portrait, a unique and beautiful object which they can keep or give away. Sitters also report enjoying the chance to talk to the poet, as well as the feeling of being 'interpreted' by the poem.
Stacks Image 111
What are the outcomes for the setting itself, or group?
The Poem Portrait is a snapshot of an individual, but also of a group or community. Possible material outcomes: a book or web archive, and/or a temporary or permanent exhibition. A Poem Portraits project usually culminates in a celebration in which all the Portraits are exhibited together. Participants will be able to view other portraits, share experiences, and perhaps see their community/organisation/team in a new light.
'The poem and portrait are great and I felt really proud seeing it in the exhibition'. (Bev, Cube Choir).
Stacks Image 125
Go one step further and commission an individual Poem Portrait:
For a fantastic and unique gift, commission an individual Poem Portrait for a friend, family member, colleague, or even for yourself; perhaps for a special occasion like a retirement, birthday, anniversary, or wedding.
Stacks Image 102
Create your own in a workshop:
Peter and Lizzie can also lead workshops in the making of Poem Portraits in which participants learn how to create their own.

A POEM PORTRAITS project can be tailored in duration and scale according to different settings and budgets.

For bookings and price information contact: Peter Spafford 07590 028327
email: peter.spafford@ntlworld.com
The Poet: Peter Spafford has worked as a professional writer for over twenty years in various media, including theatre, television, and radio. His poems have appeared in a range of publications and been performed in many different settings. A first collection, 'The Heart of Standing', is due out from Valley Press within the next year.
Stacks Image 220
The Photographer: Lizzie Coombes is a professional photographer who has worked on a wide variety of commissions and projects. She has a keen interest in photographing people and their spaces and has exhibited in many different environments. She is a regular Tweeter of images under the Nom de Camera 'Betty Lawless'. For more examples of Lizzie's work, go to her Flickr site and here
Stacks Image 236
© 2014 Poem Portraits Contact Poem Portraits
For bookings and price information contact: Peter Spafford 07590 028327

To see more poem portraits please view full gallery.