Acclaimed public speaking initiative for young people returns to the Herbert this month

An acclaimed public speaking initiative for young people will return to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum this month.

Articulation is a nationwide competition designed to promote the appreciation and discussion of visual culture, while instilling a sense of confidence in participants.

Run by the National Gallery, Articulation engages young people, regardless of background or experience, with art and develops their confidence and ability to express their opinions, thoughts and conclusions.

The grand final is held in London each spring, with regional qualifiers occurring throughout the year at partnering galleries.

The Herbert, which represents the Midlands, welcomes schools on Discovery Days – essentially free workshops for KS5 students to help develop critical analysis, research and public speaking skills.

The first of these will take place next week, with schools attending and putting forward candidates.

A regional final consisting of 16-18 year olds from the Midlands will take place in early 2024 at the Herbert, where the winner will go forward to the national final which takes place in March at the National Gallery.

The Discovery Days at the Herbert are led by CV Life’s Brian Scholes, who is part of the Learning and Education Team.

Speaking of the Discovery Days, Brian said: ”Local schools will take part, with up to ten students from each. It’s a great day and everyone learns a lot.

“As part of the workshop I will give a presentation about a work of art and then afterwards explain pointers about public speaking, including, voice projection, eye contact with audiences, and other things.

“We put them in groups and get them talking about art. We do some warm up exercises to break the ice, then each group is given a task to research and develop their individual presentation around a work of art.

“After an initial practice presentation, the students are given a critique, some feedback then finally each group delivers their presentation to the whole group of Discovery Day students.

“This year we will work around the Divided Selves exhibition as well as the permanent Herbert collection.

“We get young people from Wolverhampton, Derby, Birmingham and all over. Two years ago we had a girl from Blue Coat School in Coventry who was nominated by her school – she made it to the regional final.

“Last year, we had Theo who came to one of our Discovery Days from a school in Birmingham – they then won the regional final and went on to come third in the grand final in London.”

Speaking of the regional Midlands final which will be held at the Herbert in January, Brian added: “The people from Articulation come up and it’s a big event, we have a guest adjudicator who decides the top three then whoever comes first goes to the grand final in London.

“It builds up the students’ confidence in terms of their presenting skills, but it also promotes their appreciation of art. And it’s really at a vital time in their lives too, when they’ll be expected to do presentations in terms of school, university or work.

It’s great, and gives me an enormous feeling of pride at seeing their progress.”

Due to the success of the Discovery Day at the Herbert last year, the venue will hold two this year, on 19 September and 20 September – both days have been fully booked by schools across the Midlands.

Find out more about Articulation here.

Finalists at last year’s grand final – image by Hydar Dewachi