Traditional and new media artwork – created by 130 Swindon students as part of a project supported by a £25,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Young Roots programme – goes on display from 10 February.
Four schools from the Swindon area have taken part in Back to Black and White, a youth arts and heritage initiative run in partnership with Swindon Youth Forum and Swindon Borough Council’s Culture Swindon team.
Starting last year, Swindon Youth Forum members, aged 11-16, worked alongside digital artist Dani Landau. Inspired by Swindon photographer Albert Beaney’s collection of 40,000 photographs of residents from the 1940s -70s, the young people took photos of people today, using images both past and present to curate their own exhibition, which over 1,000 people attended at Artsite.
Culture Swindon’s digital media team Create Studios then rolled out the project to the four Swindon schools, who produced their own artworks and curated their own schools’ exhibitions.
Artist Dani Landau said, “The photographs created a bridge across the generations, a starting point for conversations. Both young and adults were curious about each others’ lives. There was laughter as we realised they did a lot of the same things, even in the same places.”
Culture Swindon Education Manager Dienka Hines added, “This project has enabled young people to engage with Swindon’s history – and the older people who are part of it – in innovative and engaging ways. They have used the Albert Beaney collection to connect with the past and then produced fantastic digital artwork reflecting on their communities now. I’m really excited to see the final exhibition of the young people’s work.
“At Drove School 60 children created a local walking history tour using photos. They made pop-up models and included 3D children from past and present images sitting together.
"At St Joseph’s they used the latest technology – taking images with mobile phones, putting them to music and then making a film. They responded to the Beaney collection by looking at what life is like now.
"Pupils at Commonweal created images of themselves, with the old images superimposed, and exhibited within the school. Meanwhile at Seven Fields they worked with the older generation, interviewing seniors about Swindon days gone by. They visited local landmarks from Beaney’s images of Penhill, to make a film which paired together their old and new photos.” Pictured above, older Swindonians looking through the Beaney collection. Below, Albert Beaney’s 1960s picture of boys at play in Penhill.
Commenting on the success of the project, HLF’s Acting Head of South West, Richard Bellamy, said, “Young people are the future champions for heritage and through our Young Roots programme we want to inspire them to explore the richness and diversity of the past, and, as in the Back to Black and White project, learn in a creative way about people who, in previous generations, have influenced their local communities.”
Now all the work will come together in a range of photographs, digital films and installations at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in a final exhibition, starting on Friday 10 February, 10am, and running until Saturday 14 April, open Wednesdays to Saturdays.