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BIG Art, Tall Stories and Big Tall Ships - National competition launched

  • 3 min read

BIG Art, Tall Stories and Big Tall Ships - National competition launched

A picture is telling thousands of words as school children across the country knuckle down to interpreting an oil-based celebration of one of this year’s great world Maritime events – the Falmouth to Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta.

Artist in residence for the Regatta, John Dyer, has unveiled his fireworks and fiesta painting, based on memories of the last Falmouth Tall Ships Festival in 2008, which, with the help of story-tellers, performers, a playwright and a hip-hop poet, is getting youngsters deeply immersed in their own paint and salty tales.

Damian Dibben, creator of the world famous “The History Keepers” time-travel series is part of the creative team for the BIG Art & Storytelling Tall Ships Project says, “This is a brilliant, original competition. John Dyer’s picture is bursting with character, life and colour – I can’t wait to see what stories it inspires: pictures, stories, poems, anything.”

More than 40 sailing ships from across the world, along with an anticipated 100,000 visitors, will converge on Falmouth, the stunning Cornish host port, from 28th August for four days of celebrations before the start of the race. The Race is organised by Sail Training International and takes the vessels along the south coast via the Isle of Wight and on to the Thames, with further celebrations at Royal Greenwich.

The first batch of young people rolled up sleeves at Falmouth Art Gallery, where ten year old Charlotte Taylor from Constantine School declared, “Everyone’s having a party in John’s painting, the Tall Ships are all lit up at night and the fireworks are like big splashes across the sky. It’s the fireworks that are in my painting – but my story’s going to be about a cat that gets lost.”

John and the creative team are working closely with Festival organisers in Falmouth led by Cornwall Development Company’s Visit Cornwall Team. Dea Birkett, of the national initiative ‘Kids in Museums’,  is helping to roll out the BIG Art and Storytelling Tall Ships Project across the country, Dea describes John’s painting and the project as, “…entirely entrancing, engrossing. It opens up new worlds.”

“This whole project is a huge creative stimulus for children,” says artistic practitioner John Frankland. “The writers have all seen the painting in advance – James Graham, the National Theatre playwright, has written the first scene of a play for children to finish; Maxwell Golden has written a hip hop poem…it’s all about firing young imaginations to express themselves in pictures and words.”

The project is gathering momentum and endorsements from across the UK: Philip Mould OBE, art expert on the BBC’s “Fake or Fortune” says, “The BIG Art & Storytelling Tall Ships Project is charismatic. John Dyer’s new Tall Ships painting, combined with professional storytelling, creates an irresistible hub for creativity to flourish.”


John Dyer’s painting, reflects the excitement and atmosphere of the Regatta, with entertainment and activities throughout the whole town. The competition closes on 31st July, with the 24 top prize winners, another 200 top art entries and a selection of the writing going on display at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall during the Tall Ships Regatta from the end of August.

“You quite often hear of a work of literature inspiring a piece of art but not so often the other way around,” says John Dyer. “I believe everybody is born highly creative and artistic – it’s what helps us develop and learn – and it’s a real privilege to be encouraging artistic talents, working with children across the country in this special and magical event.”

For more information about The BIG Art and Storytelling Tall Ships Project see including a short film describing the project.

Caption: Left to right, artist John Dyer, Visit Cornwall’s Sam Groom, artistic practitioner John Frankland, Michael Sweeney from the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, storyteller Paul Farmer, Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta, Chairman John Hick, joined by young artists from Constantine School

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