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Image of ‘Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando’ by Degas, 1879.
Over 130 Year 7 pupils from St. Marylebone CE School worked with award winning novelist Roy Apps. He focused on Degas’s ‘Miss La-La at the Cirque Fernando’ during his masterclass.

Here, Roy shares some of his ideas:

“In the development of powerful and truthful writing, the importance of ’show don’t tell’ is paramount. But how do you get your characters to ‘show’ emotions and feelings?

One way, of course, is to look at the way artists work. They have to ‘show’. They don’t use words. And where else is there such diversity and breadth of artistic styles than in the National Gallery? The Articulate Project offers a unique, flexible framework in which students can explore creating ‘word pictures’ as a way of exploring and showing characters’ feelings and emotions.

The Painting
One cold January day, I wondered round the Gallery, finding paintings that ‘spoke’ to me in some way: nice work if you can get it. I came up with half a dozen or so. A couple of weeks later I went back and looked at these paintings again. Finally I chose ‘Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando’ by Edgar Degas. I suppose it’s a writers’ painting: it’s a work that says ‘here are stories’; it asks questions, but doesn’t give answers. Who is Miss La La? How did she come to be here? Who is holding the rope? Only the writer-in-us can imagine…

The Masterclasses
When it came to the Masterclasses, I was impressed –and moved- by the way in which the students quickly engaged with ‘Miss La La’ at such a deep and personal level. View Roy's Masterclasses.

It’s been a real privilege and a thrill to be part of the National Gallery’s Articulate Project.”
Image of quote from Roy's story.Click here for Roy Apps' story.
Image of a Roy Apps' Masterclass.Click here for Brian Flynn's Masterclasses.
Image of students.Click here for Student Responses.
Detail of ‘Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando’ by Degas, 1879.Click here for About the Painting.
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More about Roy Apps