These remarkable images created by children of a primary school in London show how much young people can achieve when their creativity is supported. Photographer Karina Walton worked with an all-girl group to create these instructional posters for the school – instructional for boys.
The project came about when some of the girls came to Walton. Their proposal was to produce some work in response to verbal and physical harassment they experienced in school – harassment that Walton notes amounted to sexism and racism. In the workshops that followed, the girls had free reign to choose the subject matter, poses, lettering and design.
The resulting images owe their power to the participatory process which Walton facilitated. I’m particularly intrigued by three factors that contributed to their success:
The participants worked in a safe space protected from the oppression they were trying to challenge. The children felt that as the issue was with boys, no boys should be involved in the creation process. On reflection, the children felt this gave them increased confidence in the workshop as they were not worried about the boys taking control of the equipment or laughing at their activities.
The facilitator brought in examples of other relevant work that the participants could draw upon for inspiration. In this case, one of the children was particularly interested in the use of lettering in Barbara Kruger’s work. She remarked on how the words “jumped out at you”, and Kruger’s work subsequently informed the bold text in the final posters.
The participants could influence all elements of the photographic process, including medium, location, and the layout and content of each photo. For example, the children chose black and white film as they felt it was more suited to serious content, whereas colour film was suitable for “happier photos”.
Produced in 1989 with pupils from Snowsfields Primary, the posters have a direct intensity that still rings true today. By focusing on their own experiences and creating a personal response, the girls created images whose meaning echoes far beyond the environment they were created for.
24th Oct, 2009: ‘Bring the Troops Home’ was the demand of tens of thousands of anti-war protesters in London today. The demonstration was called by Stop the War, CND and the British Muslim Institute. Trafalgar Square heard speeches against against the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with speakers as diverse as refusing soldier Lance Cpl Joe Glenton and Guantanamo survivor Omar Deghayes.
1st April, 2009: Thousands of protesters gathered in London today to demand real results from this week’s G20 summit. Organisations including Stop The War, Climate Camp, CND and several Anarchist groups were joined by a huge number of non-affiliated UK citizens in protests across The City, London’s financial centre.
27th Feb, 2009: Over a thousand students gathered in London this week to protest against the UK government’s controversial ‘top-up fees’.
Since 2006, students at universities in England and Wales have had to pay over £3,000 a year for their courses, while international students pay around £9,000 a year. The government is now considering raising the maximum price for top-up fees to £6,000 a year for domestic students.
The demonstration brought students from around the country together to demand that the government scrap the fees altogether and reinstate free education for all. Delegations from universities as far and wide as Essex, Manchester, and Sussex travelled to the capital armed with banners, slogans, and high spirits. The march ended outside the London School of Economics, recently home to one of the thirty student sit-in occupations taking place across the country.
The march brought parts of London to a standstill, but the biggest effect that I perceived was on the protesters themselves. While police lines prevented the march from protesting outside Parliament, the sense of unity and common purpose among those present served to strengthen the resolve of the movement. It seems this was only the start of what is set to be a long and determined campaign.
10th Jan, 2009: Protesters in London heard a diverse range of speakers call for peace in Gaza today. Leaders at the Muslim Council of Britain stood alongside Jews for Justice, Amnesty spokesperson Annie Lennox, and dozens of other UK-based social, religious, and human-rights groups, in the capital’s biggest mass demonstration since 2003.
3rd Jan, 2009: Thousands gathered in London today to protest the Israeli bombing of Gaza. Speakers demanded that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown use all our nation’s diplomatic and economic leverage to ensure Israel’s assault on the Palestinian territory ends immediately.
After a bill of rousing speakers, the protest officially ended, but thousands more marched to the Israeli Embassy to continue their protest. Fights broke out as police pushed back the crowd, but otherwise the day passed peacefully.
The number of protesters was almost overwhelming, and their passion encouraging. I only hope we have made a difference by coming out in such numbers; I only hope our government will listen to its people.