My Hero Is Nothing Like the Movie Heroes

Posted by theministry on 11th October 2023


On Saturday 16th September, our Community Writing Labs celebrated a heroic term of writing with an exhibition at our Shoreditch neighbours, Autograph Gallery.

In the exhibition were poems about mothers and best friends, football G.O.A.T.s and firm-but-fair teachers, super-strong superheroes and ancient doctors. We invited visitors to think about what makes someone a hero, and who might be unsung – and why.

The poems were written by 106 young writers aged 8-15 who attend our Writing Labs. The theme was inspired by Autograph’s mission to highlight questions of race, representation, human rights and social justice. We took a small group to the gallery last autumn, who saw Sasha Huber’s exhibition, ‘YOU NAME IT’; it made us think about who we celebrate and how we can raise our everyday heroes up.

“Heroes come in lots of different forms and make people think different ways.”


“What a gift – the freedom within a poem.”

Over the term we discussed what makes a hero – from the traits we see in them, to questioning the idea of heroism itself. We considered ourselves as heroes, then moved on to personal and everyday heroes. We used the Rebel Girls and Little Leaders book series to learn about unsung heroes, and thought about why they might be unrecognised. Each writer then picked their favourite work from the term to polish up for the exhibition.

A trip to Autograph and a joyful time with instant cameras, props and costumes helped us think about the ways we might represent someone we admire – the angle we view them from, and how we might show what makes them who they are. The groups also spent a session with artist Shepherd Manyika learning to create heroic self portraits as cyanotypes (sun prints). We exhibited some of these beautiful images alongside the poems in a final exhibition at Autograph Gallery, welcoming more than 60 visitors over the course of the day.

It was wonderful to hear about the people who inspire our writers. As young writer Heja says, “Never forget everyone is a hero. Everyone has a little kindness in them.”

Read all the poems here (PDF)

With thanks to Autograph Gallery, Shepherd Manyika and, for exhibition design, Studio Brick.

This project, originally titled ‘Life Through A Lens’, was generously funded by Sherborne in the Community, The Grocers’ Company and NEXT plc. in addition to our core community programme funders.

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