During my first set of schools workshops at South London Gallery in July 2017 I invited year 4 classes visiting ‘The Place Is Hear’ exhibition to shout the texts from Lubaina Himids multimedia piece, ‘We Will Be’ until their voices filled the space. As an artist whose practice aims to engage and empower voices who have been historically and representationally excluded from gallery spaces it was particularly inspiring to hear predominantly Black, Asian and Latinx children from Oliver Goldsmiths primary school in Peckham roaring:
“WE WILL BE WHO WE WANT, WHEN WE WANT, WHERE WE WANT, WITH WHO WE WANT! AND THE TIME IS NOW AND THE PLACE IS HERE, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE!”
It was inspiring to hear this both because it felt like an activation of Himids work and because the responses it provoked from the young people were intelligent and critical in many creative ways. This workshop culminated in life size cut out cardboard figures, our own versions of Lubaina Himid’s iconic works, whose bodies were filled with mantras, affirmations, and stories that represented the children’s own perspectives on the themes raised by the exhibition.
One of the most rewarding responses to my previous schools workshops in galleries is hearing young people talk about public galleries with a sense of owner ship.
“Our gallery,” “our space,” “our work”Harris Academy Secondary School children 2018
This type of assertion, of a collective stake or claim in public galleries, demonstrates a kind of confidence that I like to instill in all young people who visit gallery spaces.