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Kate Tempest photograph is acquired by National Portrait Gallery
Kate Tempest by Dav Stewart, 21 November 2013, colour coupler print ©Dav Stewart.

LONDON.- The cover photograph for Kate Tempest’s critically-acclaimed debut solo album, Everybody Down, taken by Dav Stewart, is the latest work to be added to the National Portrait Gallery Collection, it was announced this week.

The portrait has gone on display alongside some of the most celebrated poets working in Britain today, including Dame Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage and Benjamin Zephaniah, in Picture the Poet, a major touring photography exhibition aimed at encouraging thousands of young people to engage with poetry. The exhibition has been organised by the National Portrait Gallery in collaboration with Apples and Snakes and the National Literacy Trust.

The acclaimed poet and spoken word artist, Kate Tempest, has performed across the world with artists such as Billy Bragg and John Cooper Clarke, and has worked with a range of organisations, including The Old Vic and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her debut solo album, Everybody Down, was released in 2014 and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize the same year.

The photographer, Dav Stewart, and art director, Luke Eastop, worked with Tempest on her album and single covers throughout her early unsigned career. When she signed to the record company Big Dada in 2013, Tempest continued their working relationship and the portrait for her album was taken in a studio set up in the photographer's east London flat.

The photograph of Tempest joined the major touring exhibition Picture the Poet when it opened at The Collection in Lincoln on 1 May 2015, where she is the youngest figure on display. The photography exhibition, from the National Portrait Gallery Collection, features over fifty portraits of some of Britain's leading living poets, including Poet Laureate and children's writer, Dame Carol Ann Duffy; former Poet Laureate and writer, Sir Andrew Motion; poet and novelist, Ben Okri; the acclaimed children’s poet, Michael Rosen; and dub poet and musician, Benjamin Zephaniah.

The aim of Picture the Poet is to inspire young people and develop their literacy skills. Since the exhibition opened at its first tour venue, The Forum in Norwich in May 2014, over 1000 young people and school children have taken part in bespoke workshops - taking photographs, writing poems and performing live - in response to the portraits on display. Britain’s leading performance poetry organisation, Apples and Snakes, have developed a series of engaging workshops at each tour venue, enabling school children and young people to work with artists and poets and create their own work. The National Literacy Trust is providing extensive expertise for schools in each region to enable them to develop highly engaging, effective and creative routes into teaching literacy, as well as working with venues to arrange school visits to the exhibition.

High profile poets, including Francesca Beard, Ian Macmillan, Sir Andrew Motion, Lemn Sissay and Benjamin Zephaniah, have praised the project and have been lending their support by contributing to the workshops and performing at special events at each of the tour venues.

Liz Smith, Director of Participation and Learning at the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Kate Tempest was chosen by the young people we have been working with as one of the inspirational poets they felt should be included in the exhibition. So it is with great pride and relevance that we can announce the acquisition of this portrait by Dav Stewart and that it will join Picture the Poet.

‘With the expertise of our project partners, we are enabling young people to develop their cultural literacy skills by working with photographic portraiture in different ways, and supporting teachers in taking forward exciting ways of teaching in the classroom.’

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, says: ‘We’re delighted to be partnering with the National Portrait Gallery and Apples and Snakes to bring Picture the Poet to children and young people across the UK. We hope that schools will seize this opportunity to raise pupils’ cultural literacy skills by allowing them to explore and delve into the wonderful worlds of some of the UK’s most inspiring poets. Good literacy skills lay the foundation for children’s future success and with poetry now centre stage in schools, innovative projects like Picture the Poet are crucial to heighten pupils’ enjoyment of reading, writing and communicating.’

Lucy Crompton-Reid, Director of Apples and Snakes, says: ‘Picture the Poet is an exciting project that is enabling people across the country to visit this fantastic collection of images of living poets. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with museums and galleries across the UK to create hands-on workshops that encourage even more people to engage with the photographs while developing their creativity, self-expression and literacy skills, through writing and performing their own original poems.’

Picture the Poet is on display at The Collection, Lincoln, from 1 May until 2 August 2015. The exhibition will then tour to Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, and Tullie House, Carlisle.

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