English PEN Brave New Voices Animations

When English PEN approached us to work with them again on an exciting project that promoted the voices of young refugees, we immediately said yes. For this project we worked with young poets from the Brave New Voices programme to create four animations based on their poems. The animations were launched at an event to celebrate the Brave New Voices programme at The Free Word Centre in London on 4 July 2017.

Project Background

Brave New Voices is part of English PEN’s outreach programme that helps young refugees, asylum seekers and migrants find their writer’s voice through creative writing workshops. [rewrite too much like what’s written on site] PEN partnered with the organisations Migrants Organise, Praxis Community Projects, British Red Cross and Salusbury World to hold workshops led by London poets, performers, and playwrights.

We were asked to create animations based on the group poems from each group and we very much wanted this to be a collaborative process with the poets and use their ideas on how they wanted to see their poem portrayed as an animation.

Each group worked together on a poem with their facilitator and what comes across is their incredible will-power to overcome obstacles, their belief in themselves, their fond memories of home and family, their struggles with adapting to a new country, and their hope for the future. Images of food, love, animals, family, nature, and music are all used to convey complex emotions within the narratives of their journeys.

English PEN Brave New Voices stop motion animation

As a first step in the animation process, an artist was assigned to each group and led a guest workshop. They showed them examples of their animations and talked about the animation process. They led collage and drawing activities that were inspired by words from their poems and then worked with them on storyboarding and creating imagery that could be used for the animation. Recordings of the poets reading the poem were done during the workshop and were used in the animations.


The artists had freedom to be creative and to explore different styles to bring to life the poems in an animation. The results are impressive with artists using sand, 3-D paper cut-outs, collage, objects, and hand drawings using watercolour, acrylic, pencil, and pen.

The editing techniques such as stop motion and wigglevision and the sound effects bring to life the animation and bring another dimension and richness to the poem’s narrative.

Brave New Voices – British Red Cross

Brave New Voices – Salusbury World at Capital City Academy


Brave New Voices – Praxis Community Projects


Brave New Voices – Salusbury World at Newman Catholic College


The team

This was a collaborative process with the different groups and the artists. The poets recorded their poems during the guest workshops with the artist and contributed their ideas to the animation.

The following artists worked together with:

British Red Cross – Temujen Gunawardena

Salusbury World at Capital City Academy – Caroline Rudge

Praxis Community Projects – Ada Jusic

Salusbury World at Newman Catholic College – Jess Harvey and Isolde Godfrey.

The animations were edited by Dann Casswell, the voices were recorded and edited by Isolde Godfrey and the project manager was Giovanna Coppola.

English PEN Brave New Voices Animation

We’d like to thank all the young poets and facilitators for working with us and helping us create these animations and we’d like to give special thanks to English PEN for asking us to work on this wonderful and creative project with them. It’s been a pleasure for all of us to read the work of these young poets and create these animations with them.

If you have a project that focuses on refugees, we’d love to hear from you. To find out more, contact Holly Willmott and sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date on what we’re up to.







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