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Young People's Archive

The William Morris Gallery's Young People's Programme is now in its third year. For further information about any of the projects, exhibitions or events referred to below or to get involved please contact Rebecca Jacobs at Rebecca.Jacobs@walthamforest.gov.uk or on 0208 496 1465.

Exhibition and Gallery Visits

Pick up a Pencil at the National Portrait Gallery

The group visited this workshop run by the National Portrait Gallery’s Youth Forum. It was a great chance to meet another museum’s youth group and see how they run events.


Pick Me Up and Venturing Beyond at Somerset House

The group visited Venturing Beyond and Pick Me Up Graphic Arts Festival at Somerset House. They saw work by contemporary artists on the topic of Utopia and work by recent graphic arts graduates as well as getting some tips on curation from the staff.

Creative Project October Half-Term 2015

The William Morris Gallery teamed up with Art on the Underground and the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton to run a creative project for young people in october half-term 2015. Led by artist Ania Bas, participants went behind-the-scenes at the Gallery and the Black Cultural Archives. Using the collections as inspiration, the group have designed and created their own newspaper with the help and guidance of professional artist Ania Bas. During the project they tried out hands-on printing and design techniques, developed new skills, visited a letterpress printing workshop and a graphic design studio and met with journalists and one of the founders of Rock Against Racism. The newspaper will be displayed at both venues and distributed at stations along the Victoira Line in early 2016.

Part of Underline, a series of art and music commissions for the Victoria Line that launched in July 2015. Supported by Arts Council England.

Creative Project 2015: Bob and Roberta Smith

In August 2015 a group of 12 young people took part in a week long creative project exploring the work of artist and political activist Bob and Roberta Smith. The group visited the artist in his studio in Ramsgate, developed graphic design and signwriting skills and talked about how art can be used to send a message or campaign for a cause. They were supported throughout by professional artist Della Rees and Gallery learning staff. An exhibition of the work produced, entitled Letters for Everyday, is on display at the William Morris Gallery until 31 January 2016 and has been curated by the Young Curators Group.

Torn Justice exhibition

In November 2014 - March 2015 seven young people aged 16 - 22 exhibited original art work looking at working conditions in the global textile industry past and present. The work was developed at the Gallery in August 2014 and involved exploration of Alke Schmidt's art work from the exhibition Tangled Yarns and William Morris's interest in employment rights.

Creative Project 2014: Ethical Fashion

In August 2014 eight young people took part in a week long project to create artworks in response to the global textile industry and issues around ethical fashion. The participants researched attitidues to the industry in Morris's time and today, looking at the work of local artist Alke Schmidt and visiting the artist in her studio. With guidance from professional artist Della Rees, the group learnt new techniques for working with mixed media and transfer printing in their artwork. Each young person made a work of art for display in the Torn Justice exhibition, one of which was selected by the Mayor of Waltham Forest to be made into a Christmas card.

Young People take over the Gallery at Ignite!

In December 2013 we held a special evening event curated by four of the Waltham Forest Young Advisors in partnership with the William Morris Gallery. For one night they transformed the Gallery into an exclusive space for young people with free exhibitions, careers talks, activities and a live DJ.

You can check out a review of the event on the Waltham Forest Young Advisors' blog http://www.wfyoungadvisors.org.uk/ignite-the-night/ Here, Shehnaz Bham, the young advisor who designed and chaired the Bright Sparks session, talks about her involvement and about the entrepreneurs and professionals from the fashion industry who were invited to discuss their careers at the event.

In a society where the way we look has become part of our identity and fashion changes with the seasons - literally, the Young Advisors wanted to ask people about what they were wearing and what it really said about them. Read the article below about Expressing through Dressing, written by the young advisor who designed and led the activity.

Expressing through Dressing: a closer look at clothes

Written by Tasneem Modan, Waltham Forest Young Advisor

The Gallery recently hosted Ignite!, its first ever late event designed exclusively for young people, in partnership with the Waltham Forest Young Advisors.  The night was themed around fashion, art and textiles, exhibiting work by critically acclaimed designer Giles Deacon and local young people.  Expressing through Dressing, one of the evening’s activities, looked at how clothing can be used as a medium for self-expression, a dramatic statement or a laissez faire attitude towards life (read: lack of clean, ironed clothes!)
Young people posed with their prepared statements about fashion and identity and uploaded them onto social media platforms.  Some were quick to establish the meaning behind the colours or the trends of their clothes whilst others took longer, realising that their decision to not follow fashion was a choice in itself, a statement of personality.  Everyone’s responses were varied, just like their clothes were: "I don’t care about fashion, I just want to be comfortable", "I like to look colourful, it helps me to stand out" and "Are you really making me do this?!".

Liza and Della, from local business Mother Frockers, were just two of the guests at the Bright Sparks discussion.  They spoke of their passion for their enterprise, lending affordable and unique vintage dresses in a variety of sizes to women, and how they developed the concept.  At Expressing through Dressing we talked about how women, especially, might have issues with self-expression and feeling "beautiful" if their bodies have changed or if shops don’t always cater for their size.  Mother Frockers arose from a determination to allow women to feel confident in the clothes that they wear.

So, whether it’s a jumpers and jeans job, a kaleidoscope of colour or a dress to impress, what do your clothes say about you?

Public flock to see Will In Our Eyes

During December 2013 visitors to the William Morris Gallery were able to view the amazing artwork created by the young people who participated in the Photography Project earlier that year. The private view was a great success, attracting local residents, arts organisations and the friends and families of the young artists. The artists decided to call their group exhibition Will In Our Eyes, a clever play on words which reflects their feelings towards the source of their inspiration as well as the individuality of their responses.

Creative Project 2013: Photography

In August 2013 the young people's programme was officially launched with its first creative project. The theme of photography was selected by the Waltham Forest Young Advisors in collaboration with the Gallery. A period of consultation with young people from the local community also provided the focus on Morris's designs for wallpaper and textiles for this project. 

Young people aged 16 - 22 signed up to take part in an intensive four day experience, working with artist Errol Reuben Fernandes and creating individual works of art for exhibition inspired by the William Morris Gallery's collection. The project included photographing original objects from the collection, photographing plants and flowers in the William Morris Garden, using Photoshop Creative Suite to develop their design and working in the art studio to finish their piece by hand with mixed media. The artwork created by the participants is of an exceptionally high standard, evoking their diverse interests and personal concerns and reinterpreting Morris's designs within the context of everyday life in the 21st Century. The work was shown in an exhibition at the William Morris Gallery in December 2013 and extremely well received by all our audiences.

The project was free and open to everyone regardless of their art experience with all equipment provided. For some of the participants this was the first time they had used digital camera equipment or Photoshop software, for others they were taking the opportunity to develop their art and design skills or build their portfolio for Further/Higher Education.

"I enjoyed the idea of the use of photoshop skills ideas and the way that I could combine it with some of the painting skills that I like to use within works that I enjoy creating" (Participant, Photography Project).