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Young people aged between 11 and 17 from across western Argyll are being offered a unique opportunity to have their visual artwork showcased online and in print.
A collaboration of youth workers and artists from across the region are behind the project, which grew out of a conversation and shared concerns about the wellbeing of young people during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.
The initiative is open to all 11 to 17-year-olds living within the catchment areas of Campbeltown, Tarbert, Lochgilphead, Islay, Oban and Tobermory secondary schools.
Young people are being invited to submit photographs of any kind of visual art – collages, paintings, sculptures, graphic art, drawings, photographs – but no selfies! – or even doodles – which will then be exhibited via a dedicated Instagram account – @ayelovetomake. As many examples as possible will then also be published in the Campbeltown Courier, Argyllshire Advertiser and Oban Times newspapers.
The artwork, which must be created specifically for this showcase, can be on any surface – as long as it can be photographed and submitted – but it is limited to one image per person. It is not a competition and none of artwork will be judged.
Gigha-based youth work facilitator Kenny Wilson, one of the project’s organisers, explained: ‘As youth workers, we kept hearing the same phrases from young people, phrases like ‘My bedroom has become my classroom’ and ‘I feel like the walls are closing in on me’. Young people were asking questions like ‘Where can we go?’ Nowhere. ‘Who we can meet?’ No-one. ‘What are we allowed to do?’ During lockdown, very little at all.
‘The idea is to give artistic young people something to do that’s not prescribed by the Curriculum for Excellence [Scotland’s education framework] or by the government; to give them the freedom to choose what they want to do, to design whatever they want to design.
‘The reward will be seeing their artwork published online and in the newspapers. The purpose of the whole thing is to increase the wellbeing of young people, to give them a boost – it’s as simple as that.’
He added: ‘It could well be that something catches the eye of someone in the wider artistic community and they could be put in touch with the young creator of the piece in question – but that would have to be arranged through the youth workers, subject to careful child protection measures, and with parents’ consent.’
Kenny explained that safeguarding is an essential part of all that youth workers do and, as such, the organisers have created a GDPR statement which reads: ‘We will ensure that all personal data that we collect will only be held until all the images have been showcased, and will be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner and only collected for the legitimate purposes of the showcase, and will never be passed on to any other organisation or third party without your explicit permission.’
Those who would like to register an interest in taking part, can email firstname.lastname@example.org providing their first name and location. They are not required to submit their surname, full address or age, as long as they are within the 11 to 17 age range.
When the project officially launches on Friday March 26, they can then send photographs of their artwork to the same email address so it can be uploaded to the project’s Instagram account, where it will be made visible to the public after the Sunday April 25 closing date.
Kenny added: ‘If you are a young person with a desire to create, then go for it!’