The Seven Unlocked Competition

In July of this year several schools in Powys took part in a very special competition based on The Seven and the remarkable artwork local artist Rose Foran produced which was inspired by it and the sequel The Eighth Gateway. Children were asked to produce either a picture inspired by the artist’s images or by the book itself. Alternatively a piece of writing inspired by either. Guilsfield, Maesydre and Meifod schools all produced winning entires and were prevented with their prizes at school by both myself and Rosie. Each winner was given either a book prize, kindly donated by Gomer Press, or their choice of prints from Rosie’s work.


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Beginning at the top we have the winner of the creative writing competition, Jocelyn McKenzie from Guilsfield School. The judges were particularly impressed with her use of atmosphere and mood, and the way that she began the piece with a single word, ‘Falling’.

The remaining two creative prizes of books published by Gomer Press, including a special Gateway edition of The Seven, went to Nell Walsh, (for second prize) and Grace Evans, (third) from Meifod School. Both piece were also rich in atmosphere, ideas and character, with Grace’s put together in the style of Branwen’s diary and Nell’s evoking a rich gothic feel.

Now we come to the art competition. The judges thought that the above picture by Luke Van Hulzer of Tony rummaging through his attic and finding his mother’s mysterious paintings in the first chapter of the book, was highly effective. You can see a box of Tony’s old toys and the swinging light below the skylight. There is a real sense of discovery, taken from just one small idea. Luke is from Guilsfield School.

Next to it is Ruby Shepherd’s second prize winner – also from Guilsfield School. Ruby has clearly had fun re-inventing the idea of the churchyard in which even some of her classmates names are on the gravestones. Again the churchyard and Tony’s mysterious alder tree, in which he believes he can see Eleri’s face, feature at the beginning of the book.

The final third prize winner beneath is from Zoe Baker from Maesydre School in Welshpool with this beautiful and accurate painting of The Seven’s cover. There are of course seven trees on the little mound, as you will find there are throughout the book.

The actual competition was only part of the fun we enjoyed throughout June-July with the Seven Unlocked.

I made several visits to local schools before the competition in July, in order to encourage years 5-6 to enter. Then in July itself Welshpool Library hosted an exhibition of twelve images by Rose which were inspired by both books. At the end of term all of these winning entries were framed and added to the competition so that children could see their own work.  Some schools paid special visits to view the artwork. All winners received their prize of either book or print, along with a special competition and a report for each detailing just what the judges had enjoyed most.

Our special Seven Unlocked Quest however proved so difficult that even library staff were unable to solve it!

There will be more on this in a future post.

You never know – you might be the one to solve it.



The Seven (Unlocked)

Do you have a child aged 7-11? Will you be in Welshpool on Saturday 9th November?

Do they, ( or you because we want you to come too) love King Arthur. Welsh Myth, trees that whisper secrets only you can hear  and open to reveal hidden mysteries?

You don’t? You must be mad!

But if you do you can come along at 10.30 on the morning of 9th November to Welshpool Library and learn a few more of those secrets.

Is it easy to get in? Doesn’t sound much of a secret if just anyone can walk in off the street?

Well you’ll need a special key. And you’ll also need to know which of the Seven you are.

Then and only then will the hidden doorway be revealed.