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The award-winning author, famed for children’s novels including Millions, Runaway Robot and The Unforgotten Coat, is acting as a judge for a new ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ art prize, organised by Liverpool Hope University and open to school pupils across the UK.
And speaking to launch the competition, Cottrell Boyce says we underestimate the strength of the nation’s youth at our peril.
The 61-year-old, a Professor of Reading and Communication at Hope reveals: “The pandemic has been a reversal of all the natural norms.
“Usually adults protect the young. For instance, in the war, the children were sent off to the countryside to avoid bombing while the adults kept the factories and cities going.
“This time, however, we’ve asked the young to lock themselves away in order to protect the older and more vulnerable. I think they’ve been incredible – the huge amounts of creativity, kindness and resilience everywhere.
“And I hope history remembers what they did.”
The Hope Springs Eternal art prize is a video competition for schools, run in conjunction with Merseyside-based Morecrofts Solicitors and the Joyce Lund Charitable Estate, with £4,000 worth of prizes up for grabs.
And the idea is for groups or classes to submit a short video clip, no more than 60 seconds long, demonstrating the theme ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ in whatever creative way they wish.
For Merseyside native and Rainhill-born Cottrell Boyce, it’s a chance for that creativity to unite entire communities.
The author – who releases new book Noah’s Gold May 13th – explains: “Whether we’re talking about drama, performance, dance, art or even poetry, creativity is creativity. The only thing that matters is that we use our creativity to reach out to each other.
“The great message of all art is, ‘you’re not alone’. It’s been very easy to forget that truth in a year of isolation. This is a great moment to be celebrating that – whether on paper or on the dance floor!
“And the other thing to remember is that this prize is an opportunity for young people to express their political opinions and thoughts – because they’re much more switched-on than we perhaps give them credit for.
“When it comes to Brexit, for example, I’ve watched my generation go into meltdown over what is essentially the renegotiation of a regional trade treaty. Meanwhile the planet is burning!
“It’s the young people who have the sense to see this and the ability to see the greater perspective.”
Joining Cottrell Boyce on the art prize judging panel is comedienne, actress, singer and presenter Pauline Daniels, as well as up-and-coming actor Jamil Abbasi, who recently starred in the musical Rent at the Liverpool Empire Theatre.
Meanwhile Cottrell Boyce says we shouldn’t look down our noses at creative mediums like TikTok and YouTube, as it’s technology that could well usher-in a new generation of screen performers.
He adds: “If we’ve learnt one thing this year it is that – for good and for ill – we have made ourselves totally dependent on the internet.
“For us to complain about that now is like a fish complaining about water. When we use it creatively, we are its master. When we just consume it, it is our master.”
The overall winner of the Hope Springs Eternal art prize will receive £1,000 for school resources of the institution’s own choice. Meanwhile there will also be six runner up prizes of £500 each, again for school resources.
The closing date for entries is Friday 28th May.
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