“We are blank canvasses.”
“Sometimes its easier to work on issues with adults who are not
parents or teachers.”
“This project helps adults to understand that kids aren’t stupid.”
“It helps give strong messages to other kids.”
– Project Participants feedback
A series of twilight sessions delivered in partnership with SECOS during July – August 2003 allowed girls aged 14 and 15, from Newlands School to work with Jack Drum Arts, exploring issues around what is safe and unsafe in relationships.
The young people were identified and chosen by the school as individuals who would benefit from small group work and have low self-esteem.
The aims of the project centred around; developing greater awareness among the group of issues of ‘Safe’ and ‘Unsafe’ relationships and how they would categorise certain situations; Improving the participants self esteem and their ability to make more informed choices regarding risky behaviours. The project also entailed the production of a body of work that communicates the issues to a wider audience.
The artists found the eight girls involved to be a highly motivated group, and began the programme with drama sessions, and with examples of work from previous projects, then asked the group to come up with ideas they would like to develop.
The girls had strong views about a range of issues that directly affect their lives, such as bullying and managing life as a Child Carer. From the points raised in discussion, and developed within role-playing situations, it was decided that they would create large-scale posters, each one focusing on a different concern and demanding respect.
The artists asked the girls to write imaginary dairy entries as a means of finding an authentic voice from which to develop text and images. They also explored situations of potential danger and risk through dramatic improvisation and role-play.
The girls worked hard, helping each other by taking and posing for photographs, recording and transcribing improvised monologues, codesigning and editing text and graphics. The finished results revealed a multi-layered approach, with images of the girls writing their diaries in safe (often fantastical settings), juxtaposed with bold and often harsh visions of despair, vulnerability and abuse.
Hand written diary fragments refer back to the starting point for the work and ensure that the work is rooted in familiar teen iconography. The girls were excited that the work will be continued and that their images will help in the development of an education pack, which will include the poster images, linked worksheets and supporting information.
Two girls from the original group later joined 6 other girls from the school to continue this work and produce the education pack, which aims to provide information, advice and case studies for teachers and class room assistants around significant factors that affect young peoples ability to study.