An exhibition featuring work by young people, alongside images from Swindon photographer Albert Beany taken over 50 years ago, runs from 16-19 August at Artsite in Theatre Square.
Inspired by Beaney’s collection of 40,000 photographs of Swindon residents from the 1940s to the 1970s, today’s students have curated the exhibition, revealing interesting insights of then and now. As well as taking photographs of people in Swindon today, they tracked down some of those who were photographed by Beaney, interviewed them and have included their discoveries in the exhibition.
The Back to Black and White project – a partnership between Culture Swindon and Swindon Youth Forum – is supported by a £25,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Young Roots programme. The Youth Forum members, all aged between 11 and 16 years old, hope the project will create better relationships between younger and older members of the community.
Working with Create Studios, Swindon’s state-of-the-art digital media studio, the students – all studying their Arts Award – have been mentored by professional photographer Dani Landau. They have gained a range of new skills including photography, digital media, photography handling and curatorial skills. They will now work with Dani to roll out the project to students in four other schools in Swindon over the autumn. Altogether over 130 young people will be involved. Harley Drew, aged 16, said: “It’s fun working with others and giving something back to the community.”
Dienka Hines, Culture Swindon’s Education Manager, said: “The young photographers have worked so hard and this free exhibition is amazing, it’s a fascinating study of young people’s lives in the mid 20th Century and today – not only the differences but also the similarities. Whatever you do, don’t miss it.”
Commenting on the grant award, Nerys Watts HLF’s Head of South West, added: “As this project demonstrates, the richness and diversity of the UK’s heritage can inspire young people from all backgrounds, not just to explore the past, but to learn new skills and to create resources that benefit the whole community. This fascinating new exhibition will literally provide a snapshot of two different points in the history of Swindon.”
Cllr Garry Perkins, Deputy Leader of Swindon Borough Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Culture, said: “Albert Beany’s collection of photographs is a great pictorial history of Swindon and it is fantastic the young people have shown great passion and enthusiasm to put together this exhibition.
“I would encourage as many people as possible to visit the Artsite gallery to see for themselves how the town has changed through the years.”