Friday, July 8th, 2016.

Author Michael Morpurgo meets the Excelsior Academy pupils whose work will be showcased alongside his original manuscripts in a major new exhibition at Seven Stories.

Excelsior Academy pupils helped acclaimed children’s author Michael Morpurgo turn a new page in his life with their own interpretation of his classic novels in a stunning major new exhibition of his work.

Their paintings, drawings and models are being showcased alongside the original manuscripts and notebooks of some of Michael’s most famous novels, such as War Horse, Private Peaceful and Farm Boy in a new exhibition at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books.

The nine Excelsior pupils aged 11 to 14 worked exclusively for six weeks with the Seven Stories team to study Michael’s work and draw their own interpretations from it for public display.

Thousands of visitors are anticipated to be drawn to the year-long exhibition which details Michael’s life.

Excelsior pupils Angelina Akika, Liutauras Bakiunas, Shakira Begum, Elysha Covell, Pallavi Ram, Sargam Sharma, Bethany Finlayson, Kaitlin Iceton and Tessy Idemudia were sent a personal video message of thanks from Michael during their class work to support his exhibition

Tessy addressed Michael and a packed audience at the exhibition’s opening night at Seven Stories where the pupils got to see their work on public display for the first time.

Michael took time to speak with all the pupils as he toured the exhibits and enthralled the audience with tales of his life in literature.

He said: “I want to talk about these young people who have delivered this wonderful work.

“When you hear young people speak as they do with the enthusiasm that they have, it gives out a terrific sense of hope. These young people have been in the hands of inspiring teachers, you can tell.”

Among the Excelsior work on display was Liutauras’s model of spent bullets and a medal in reference to the Private Peaceful novel, while Shakira painted her own interpretation of Joey, the ‘War Horse’ in Michael’s famous novel turned into a hugely popular stage show and Steven Spielberg film.

Holly Knox, Excelsior Academy subject development leader of drama, said: “The pupils had to read two of Michael’s books. They came in for six days over the Easter holidays with artists and drama specialists to do creative writing and make artefacts and pictures based on his novels.

“They have put a lot of work into this, extra curricular work outside of school hours.

“I think it has really allowed them the freedom to express themselves, they have been able to fully engage with their imagination and be as creative as possible.

“It is about them getting really connected with the language and the literature and seeing how they can be inspired by the text, giving them a passion for books.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Seven Stories. We are really honoured that we have had the opportunity to do this. No other school has had the opportunity to work with Michael.”

Beth Coverdale, learning and participation co-ordinator at Seven Stories, said: “We were looking for a group of young people who could bring their unique voices to Seven Stories.

“We have a reader in residence in one of Excelsior’s primary schools and we were really excited to have the opportunity to work with Excelsior.

“Each pupil chose a Morpurgo book and we explored that through drama as well and thought about what was going on in those stories and why they were interesting.

“Each chose something from the book or invented something from the book that they wanted to make with our artists.

“They helped the young people to decide how they might go about sketching, designing and then creating an artefact from that story.

“Because the objects they were making were fictional as they are from a Morpurgo book, rather than from reality, we called them atrefictions.

“I think the items they produced are absolutely stunning. Each young person has brought their own unique personality to the project and have worked in such a focused way to get exactly the effects that they want.  Everyone who has seen them has commented on how professional and beautiful they are.

“Their work will be seen by thousands of people as the exhibition runs over the next year.”