On 23 September 2011 Dulwich Picture Gallery saw the coming together of two of its Community Engagement programmes, the Urban Youth Programme and Good Times: Art for Older People, in a unique intergenerational two-day workshop. Six young people from the UK Charity Fairbridge worked alongside six older people on a project called ‘Reflections’, exploring digital and medium photography across generations.
Under the guidance of professional photographer Adrian Wood, younger and older members of the same community worked around the theme of ‘reflections’. Their interpretations were diverse, some focusing on the structure and landscape of Dulwich Picture Gallery while all were inspired by their personal life experiences. Asked by Adrian to mirror each other in locations around the Gallery grounds, the photographs illuminated the similarities and differences between the participants. The end products are moving while the process challenged the barriers and negative stereotypes existing between the age groups.
As an attending Fairbridge youth worker observed, “especially since the riots, it is so important to change people’s perception of young people… there’s never been an awkward moment on this course”. It is clear that intergenerational projects are so important and an integral part of the Education and Engagement Programmes at the Gallery.
On a similar theme, less than a week later Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Urban Youth Programme participated in an event which gave local community members the opportunity to express their feelings and opinions about the recent riots. Entitled ‘Restoring Peace’, the event allowed people to pose questions to the Communities and Victims Panel convened by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. People discussed the motivation behind the riots, the police responses and how the root causes can be tackled. Speakers included Baroness Newlove (a Community Campaigner), Brian Paddick (former Police Commander and London Mayoral candidate), and Steve Chalke (writer, speaker, community activist and founder of charities Faithworks, OasisUK and Stop the Traffik).
During the evening’s proceedings, a workshop led by Nadia Gaspar (a story consultancy and mentor to emerging writers) encouraged young people to explore and answer some of these questions by creating small monologues. Artist Drew Sinclair was also on-site to help visually represent the young people’s feelings, uploading digital photographs of their profiles and arranging their words around them. As Drew said, “their views are literally written onto their faces.”
The Urban Youth Programme has worked with Fairbridge and Oasis on numerous successful projects over recent years. Both organisations aim to give new skills and build the confidence of inner city young people. The Urban Youth Programme at Dulwich Picture Gallery has been working with young people in South London, every week, all year round, for nearly eleven years. For further information please visit: www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/education.