Pie Corbett: The Masks Project

The mask poetry and art project brought together young artists and writers from Coastlands (C) and Gomersal (G) Primary schools to work with the @TeachingLive team online. Gomersal had been designing and creating masks as part of their work on Mayans.

The schools worked with me for one online session, writing images and ideas based on masks. In pairs, we began with an oral game to warm up the imagination. Partner A invents a type of mask using a colour, e.g. The gold mask … and partner B invents 2 or 3 things that it is made of, e.g. … is made from a bumble bee’s wings and sunlight on a stained glass window. Roles were swapped after several minutes. Using padlet, we shifted on to writing ideas:

The emerald green mask is made from the shed skin of a lizard’s scales, and the sharp spikes of a cactus, Grace (G)

The mask of space is made from the soul of Jupiter, the skin of a dozen stars and the ash of the Milky Way. Lucy (G)

Following a discussion about creating sound effects with alliteration and imagery to build pictures, we wrote lines about what would happen if you put on different masks:

I put on the mask of summer

and I felt a whisper of sunlight. Mason (C)

I put on the mask of Autumn,

and Halloween disappeared

like a droplet in the sunshine.  Millie (C)

I put on the mask of joy

and sad shafts of sunlight surrounded me. Zoe (C)

I put on the mask of green

and smelt the lizard’s paws. Jason (C))

The final writing challenge was to create a mask out of ingredients that you might see, hear, touch, taste or smell.

I would take the sound of a fox snuffling under the stars.

Seb (C)

I would take the taste of my Nana’s freshly cooked and sliced gammon and her tasty roast potatoes.

Willow (G)

I would take the touch of a soft, plush cloud, the velvety feel of cherry blossom petals and juice trickling through my outstretched fingers.

Willow (G)

The online session lasted an hour and we were able to give immediate feedback to almost all the ideas as they were written.  Several weeks later, poems and masks poured onto the website.

I put on the masks of wild

and remembered the importance of bees.

Sebastian (C)

When I wear the coral mask of autumn

I think of

pumpkins that have just been carved,

Golden Marigolds sharing their secrets…

Millie (C)

The mask of shadows is made from

A feather from Lucifer’s wing,

Mason (C)

The Mask of Joy

If you look at the world around you 

and see plastic pollution,

wars in Ukraine,

squabbling politicians,

troubled people fighting 

and rainforests dying,

You could put on your mask of joy

and listen to the laughter of the crows,

to the sea swishing in the shingle.

You could feel the swift of air

and marvel in the mystery 

of life swirling through the trees.

And once you feel more cheerful,

you can take off your mask

and hide it away safely

so it’s there whenever you might need it.

Zoe (C)

When I wear my forest mask
I smell the dampness of the earth
and the sweet scent of the primroses
scattered through the glade like stars.
Eva (C)

Leave me the mask
The one full of pain
That is scarred and wounded
Hobbling across the cut grass.
Emma (C)

Linking art and writing provides the opportunity to process ideas and build images and metaphors in different ways.

Pie Corbett

Thanks to the teachers: Wenda Davies and Mandy Barrett.

See more Poems:  https://teachinglive.net/tag/masks-and-poetry/

See Masks:  https://radioblogging.padlet.org/deputymitchell2/5onwum9k1nrd5pu7

Pie’s latest collection ‘Catalysts’ has over 130 catalyst poems. Available from: https://shop.talk4writing.com/products/catalysts-poems-for-writing