Reading Pictures: Bringing the Visual Arts into your Writing Practice
with Ruth Goldsmith

Explore how the visual arts offer writers a toolbox to unstick the stuck, spark the imagination, explore unfamiliar narratives and enhance creativity, through looking, reading, discussing and writing together. 

a woman with short hair, wearing big tortoiseshell glasses and earrings smiling at the camera

Explore how the visual arts offer writers a toolbox to unstick the stuck, spark the imagination, explore unfamiliar narratives and enhance creativity, through looking, reading, discussing and writing together.    

“When we read pictures […] we bring to them the temporal quality of narrative.”  – Alberto Manguel 

You bring a unique perspective to the images you see; your mind creates stories to understand what’s in front of you. During this active workshop, we’ll explore how to integrate the visual arts as part of a writing practice to generate ideas and nurture creativity, using freely available online sources. 

What will you do in the workshop?  

We’ll discuss short texts and the artworks they are responding to, before moving to exercises using images to spark your own writing. You will leave the workshop with fresh ideas and starting points for new work.  

What can you expect?  

We’ll look at pieces by writers like Ali Smith, George the Poet and Amy Sackville. A handout will suggest places to see art for free, both online and in the real world, and a writing exercise for after the workshop.  

Who is this workshop for?  

This workshop will be a welcoming space wherever you’re at and whatever you write. The only requirement is an open mind and the desire to explore new routes to creativity!  

 A note from Spread the Word 

This workshop is part of our Developing Tutors series, where writers new to delivering workshops trial their workshop ideas. We ask that you only book for one Developing Tutors workshop in this season. The other two are: Plotting for Every Kind of Fiction Writer with Arun Das; and Inside and Outside; Surface and Depth with Han Smith  

We also ask that by booking a place on this free workshop, you commit to attending it. We know life sometimes gets in the way and that emergencies happen, but as a small charity offering free opportunities that can book up quickly, not showing up makes it tricky for us to continue to offer opportunities for free.

Access Notice 

  • This masterclass is auto-captioned.

  • If you require BSL interpretation to take part, please email us at hello@spreadtheword.org.uk when booking your space by 1 July and we will try to secure BSL interpretation for you. Spread the Word will cover this cost.

  • All our online events have a relaxed format; you are welcome to take breaks at any point and turn your camera off. All our online sessions have breaks.

  • We’ll send through any reading seven days in advance. We can create adapted handouts to writers attending our workshops and events by request.

  • Our online workshops and events take place on Zoom. As standard, we will send the weblinks to participants a week in advance. If you require the dial in phone number, email us hello@spreadtheword.org.uk and we can send it through to you. Please take a look at Zoom’s accessibility info: https://zoom.us/accessibility/faq#faq1

  • If you have additional access needs or questions, please contact us at hello@spreadtheword.org.uk

About Ruth Goldsmith

Ruth Goldsmith


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The daughter of a librarian and a museum curator, it was fairly predictable that Ruth Goldsmith would enjoy telling stories. In 2019, she won a London Writers Award for Literary Fiction with Spread the Word. Her short fiction has been longlisted for the Primadonna Prize, published in the City of Stories anthology and commissioned for Visual Verse, and she received a Special Mention in the Life Writing Prize 2020. Ruth is working on her first novel, inspired by a sixteenth century portrait, set in Renaissance Italy and contemporary London.