TRAILBLAZNG – LOOK AHEAD HOUSING PROJECT
2009-10 Frogmore Court, Maidenhead
Trail Blazing was an innovative art project commissioned by Look Ahead Housing and Care (a specialist housing association providing accommodation and support services for vulnerable adults and young people across London and the South East) which created an opportunity for artists to work in collaboration with young people to develop new work that supported them in building constructive relationships with their environment and local community. Public presentations of the art works the Lightbox Gallery, Woking and Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead (Split Times, Disturbed Words) attracted visitor numbers in the realm of 15,000 and the critical acclaim of Sir Nicholas Serota, Anthony d’Offay and Outi Remes.
Trail Blazing involved us undertaking a six month artist residency with nine residents of Frogmore Court, Maidenhead. It was Look Ahead’s first project to support young people, in working with us, to achieve the nationally accredited Arts Award, resulting in five people getting the Bronze Award.
SPLIT TIMES & DISTURBED WORDS – Two Films shown in The Lightbox Gallery
Through discussion, residents at Frogmore Court in Maidenhead wanted to make works that reflected their feelings and perceptions of living in Maidenhead and which could help change public perceptions of young people. At a visit to Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the Lightbox Gallery, they saw work by Richard Long and later looked at work by Jenny Holtzer and acknowledged the significance of words in contemporary art. They decided to create art works using the written and spoken word which was to be exhibited at the Lightbox gallery alongside a new exhibition by American artist Jenny Holtzer. Several of the participants were dyslexic and discussion of working with this in mind became the focus of the Disturbed Words film. During this time practical approaches included walking and talking together, drawing, filming, editing, photography, writing and keeping a sketchbook.
“Art has been used to help the Frogmore Court community incorporate their feelings with the feelings of others. The project is about how we think about our own lives and the lives of people of different generations. Working with video and text we have been thinking about ideas of perception and identity between the generations.” Greg Mayne
Split Times is the title of two short video works by eight young people in which two narratives of being young in Maidenhead are presented, one describing the experience of a young person today and the other the memories of an older person of their youth. Young and old present each others stories and in so doing raise awareness about how different generations perceive and respond to each other and how often feelings are shared.
Disturbed Words is work by one young man that presents his writing as a large digital text projection on the gallery window, visible 24/7. The work is influenced by how young people perceive themselves and how they often sense they are perceived by others.
'Art has the power to change our perception of ourselves and the world
around us. It can give us insights into each other and allow us to articulate
thoughts and feelings that we did not know we were capable of expressing.
This is particularly true for people who may have difficulties with conventional
language patterns, such as those with dyslexia. But often such individuals
have a profound sense of the visual. A surprising number of celebrated artists
and architects had difficulties working within the conventions of teaching in
many schools. As visual awareness becomes ever more important in a
society that takes so much of its information from screens and images, the
visual becomes more important for all of us.
TrailBlazing is an impressive project which gives young people an
extraordinary opportunity to develop and express their ideas about the world
around them. The work that they have created in partnership with the exhibitions at the Lightbox and South Hill Park is evidence of powerful imaginations at work and skill in realising ambitious ideas, coupled with a real sympathy for the experiences of other people in the community'
Director, Tate, 2010
The work produced at The Lightbox with young people was highly creative, visually compelling and memorable. Jenny Holzer was deeply impressed and grateful to everyone involved!
With thanks and all best wishes,
Anthony (d’Offay), 2009
Gallery: The Lightbox Gallery, Woking, Norden Farm Centre for the Arts and Maidenhead Heritage Centre.
Funding: Arts Council England, Esmee Fairbain Foundation, Youth Opportunities Fund and Bracknell Forest Council.
Acknowledgments: These works were developed with support from Cox Green School, the staff at Norden Farm Centre and Frogmore Court, with the invaluable project management of Louise O’Reilly and all the participants who gave of themselves to the project.
Link to brochure PDF