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Sense making through poem houses

Sense making through poem houses: an arts-based approach to understanding leadership

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  • Louise Grisoni
  • Brigid Collins


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-47
Number of pages13
JournalVisual Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2012


This article introduces an arts-based approach to leadership inquiry using 'Poem houses' - an art form developed by Brigid Collins. Poem houses are three dimensional artefacts combining visual interpretation with poetic text and which hold special significance for the maker. The bringing together of poetry and assemblage in the artworks made by Collins is a conscious attempt to create the conditions in which an 'uncovering' may happen, by means of a process of layered collage and juxtaposed words and images - in what amounts to 'intermediality'. This artistic form has inspired the methods and tools used in the workshops led, with Grisoni and described in this paper. The focus for this inquiry is leadership development and, in particular, sense making processes arising from the creation of and reflections on poem houses made by workshop participants. The poem houses provide an innovative visual narrative of individual and organisational experiences of leadership. Examples are drawn from a workshop for public sector managers where we show how new insights of what it means to be a leader and collective reflections on the creative process were generated. These findings create individual and organisational narratives that contribute to our understandings of the current context of public sector leadership.



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