We challenged four poets to create an original piece inspired by a painting of their choice from Art UK.
Look, a sun and steeple in the distance. Does the artist suggest we can be saved from cauldron clouds and augmented oceans?
The painting: Boats in a Storm by Ludolf Backhuysen I
In this painting, Backhuysen depicts an emergency. The '
Backhuysen creates order from chaos: every form in the painting has a clear outline and shape. The patterns of the sails, clouds and waves are
This painting is dated
(Information courtesy of Dulwich Picture Gallery)
The poet: Sabrina Mahfouz
Sabrina Mahfouz was raised in London and Cairo. Her work includes the plays Chef, With a Little Bit of Luck, Clean, Battleface and the love
What drew you to the painting you chose?
The sea in a moment of
Why did you choose to write about immigration?
If taken in all its different forms – economic, environmental, forced displacement due to conflict etc. – to me it is the most pressing issue of our time and being dealt with, at a government level anyhow, disgracefully.
What were the challenges in writing a poem about a painting?
It is always difficult, for me, to write a poem that hasn't just popped into my head naturally. The painting actually offered endless inspiration, so it was less challenging than I'd at first imagined.
How long have you been performing poetry?
Since 2009 – that was my first open mic night, Farrago in East London.
What would your advice be for someone trying performance poetry for the first time?
Take a friend with a loud applause and a good whoop, don't drink too much (alcohol or caffeine) and believe that the audience are there to hear you and support you.
Where can people see more of your work?
I've got two books I'm really proud of out at the moment. A poetry book called How You Might Know Me and an anthology called The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write. Also, lots of theatre, dance and opera shows happening. Details are on my website.
The gallery: Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dulwich Picture Gallery, in South London, is the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery: it was founded in 1811 when Sir Francis Bourgeois RA bequeathed his collection of old masters 'for the inspection of the public'.
If you're feeling inspired, you can explore art near you by finding your closest venue here: there are museums, galleries and more from all over the UK.
Or, you can keep exploring artworks online. You can look at more Dutch artists, check out Art UK's collection of maritime paintings, or perhaps go for something completely different: try searching for topics on the artwork page.
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- In Sabrina's poem, the number 287 refers to the MPs who voted against the 'Dubs amendment', a scheme to let unaccompanied migrant children into the UK
- Last year, BBC Arts spoke to Sabrina about her work, including her poem for Railway Nation
- In 2017, Dulwich Picture Gallery is celebrating 200 years since it first opened its doors to visitors: find out more about what they have going on throughout the year
- Some of the 'must-see' paintings at Dulwich are Girl at a Window by Rembrandt, The Triumph of David by Poussin and Three Boys by Murillo