In February 2015 I was selected by Wandsworth Council for two fully funded artists residency in South London Youth Centres. Over the course of 8 weeks I worked with the young people at Tooting Hub Youth Club and the George Shearing Youth Club on a variety of projects. Facilitating workshops that used sculpture, batik, stencil and collage I lead groups aged 12 to 18 in discussions and creative exercises exploring Feminisms, local Histories and the politics of race and racism in the UK.
When Initially speaking to the service users I was surprised to hear that many of the BAME young people regarded black power and the Black Lives Matter initiatives as vague American events with little relevance to their own lives. It was also interesting to hear that hardly any of the young people could name a single black artist. Using archived materials from the George Padmore institute and photocopied images from the Stuart hall library I introduced the young people to figures like Olive Morris a local black panther and activist who turned out to be the aunty of one of the girls at the youth center. The works of many black artists from England, America and the Global South became the inspiration for large mural making workshops, collage workshops, bag making and various discussions.
The first workshop was a week long drawing workshop where participants traced archived photos of UK black history onto a huge wall. Over 200 images were projected onto a wall of the centre and the young people were provided with a range of drawing inks, markers and brushes.
After the group where confident using this method to create large images they then focussed on creating images of black people who have died in UK police custody. The art works created captured the musicians, themes and spaces in England that the participants felt strongly about. Images taken from the Grime Music Scene, The Natural History Museum and the Black Cultural Archives gradually swirled together creating landscapes up the walls.