» 110m Hurdles


We have now made a touring version of the exhibition available, and it has toured Warwickshire and Walsall libraries over the past year. If you would like to book this touring exhibition for your own community venue in 2014, please get in touch with Janet at Talking Birds.

For information on how you can join in with the 110m Hurdles project, read on - there's lots of info about the project further down this page. You can also visit the project blog.


» Training Manual for Life's Hurdles

Each of us deals with the hurdles life throws at us in ways which are appropriate to our personality, circumstance and experience. We develop our own coping strategies - often emerging stronger and more vital from what might have been a pretty bruising experience. Talking Birds wanted to explore older people’s strategies for overcoming life’s hurdles and to find out what we could learn from their techniques that we could perhaps apply to our own lives.

And we wanted to share that knowledge across generations, to help children and younger people to connect with the older people in their community in a different way. To give them an excuse for a conversation about things which they might not otherwise find space for - and to allow them to see these older people through new eyes: as the vital, relevant, knowledgable and valuable people that we too often forget they are.

Our instinct was that an exhibition of large-scale life-affirming photographic portraits of the older people we worked with, accompanied by creative texts arising from meaningful dialogue with their subjects would be the most powerful format for sharing the work that writer Julie Boden and photographer Joanna Ornowska did with some of the residents at Princethorpe Court residential home in Binley, Coventry. We didn’t appreciate quite how moving such an exhibition might be - or quite how adeptly the young people we worked with from Moseley Primary School would step up to the challenge we set them - but the project has been a deeply moving, fascinating and eye-opening experience for all involved.


» Open Source Hurdling

As the race has progressed, we have realised that it has developed a life of its own, above and beyond our original intentions - proving its resonance and relevance by having been adapted and replicated in different places in the UK and abroad. We have made a book about the project featuring all the Princethorpe and Moseley poems and photographs. There are also some ideas for how you can run your own Hurdles project - and how you can share your work with us. These ideas are also enlarged upon on the project blog, where we'd love you to share your own Hurdling portraits and texts with others.

“Ten hurdles spaced along life’s running track,
from starting block to tape; no turning back.
As boys and girls, we sprint to start the race
then ease to feel the rhythm, find our pace,
push down one foot to jump, to fly, to fall,
to find our own technique that clears them all.
We have to train ourselves to jump, you see
for no-one lives a life that’s hurdle free.”

110m Hurdles has been funded by the Baring Foundation’s Arts and Older People Project Grants Progamme, and Arts Council England.

This exhibition of large scale portraits and poetic tips for coping with life's hurdles was at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum from Saturday 26th May - Sunday 10 June. If you would like to contribute a portrait of an inspiring older person in your life, maybe along with their top hurdling tip, please post to our Flickr group pool.

links to article about Theatre of Placelinks to the difference enginelinks to The Whale