For three weeks during September 2011, Knowle West Media Centre delivered a Prince’s Trust ‘Truth about Youth’ project.
The project aimed to support 14 young people, who were not in education, employment or training, to develop skills in photography and an understanding of representation – in order to challenge negative perceptions of young people.
During the early stages of the project, the group visited a variety of local venues to conduct interviews with Bristol residents about their perceptions of young people. They worked with two professional photographers to learn photographic techniques and visited exhibitions at Bristol’s MShed and Tate Modern for inspiration. On a trip to London, the group was given a tour of the Houses of Parliament by local MP Dawn Primarolo, and they later interviewed her about the views she held and encountered concerning young people.
The group had a range of interests and ambitions, so each individual was given support to develop skills that were relevant to the work they wanted to produce. The project culminated with a photography exhibition of the group’s work at KWMC, entitled “Shooting ‘Youth’”.
By supporting young people to pursue their own interests, ideas and photographic aspirations they were able to develop professional quality photographs and an engaging and inspiring exhibition. This quality and diversity led to the work fulfilling the overall aims of the project, in that it positively represented young people. The exhibition received media attention, enabling one young person to improve her public relations and networking skills by being interviewed by BBC Radio Bristol, and the exhibition was reviewed by Dr Shawn Sobers.
The potential for young people to have curatorial roles in developing work for meaningful, engaging exhibitions has informed the development of other KWMC projects, particularly Curating Activism.