For the second workshop in the new phase of the project, Art in the Everyday, everyone started by creating automatic drawings and freeing their mind, with music by Terry Riley in the background. After guiding the group through this brain draining, relaxation exercise, lead artist Mark Titchner asked the question: what is it that you want more than anything else?
The young people of Burnley responded with an intense and moving level of candour:
‘Contentment – no more restlessness’
‘Stability – knowing what to do later in life’
‘Freedom without worry’
‘For my brother to be ok again’
‘I want to make music’
‘I want a best friend’
Mark Titchner says that young people often ‘find their voices marginalised’ – which, after reading these sincere responses, seems unjust. Mark Titchner aims to take these internalised thoughts that are often unexpressed and project them into the outside world. He believes that it’s ‘important to encourage optimism’ in young people whilst they are still forming ideas about the world.
As an artist, Titchner creates public artworks to ‘hold up a mirror’ to our urban environment and to ‘add something into the fabric of everyday life’ to get us to look at our surroundings in a different way and reflect on ourselves. The group then created images for badges, T-shirt designs and fanzines in preparation for the next workshop.
The following day, Titchner led the third workshop Your Answer To the Question at Burnley Youth Theatre, where the group created banners with their answers from the previous day using a range of mediums. Ellie (17yrs) projected her answer, ‘contentment – no more restlessness’ onto a banner underneath a set of dark and heavy eyes. She says that the eyes ‘represent tiredness from being restless’.
Nicole (17yrs) interpreted her answer ‘ I want happiness‘ into the phrase ‘escape into happiness’ and adorned the bold letters with paintings of mushrooms. She says that ‘mushrooms are otherworldly’ and that there is ‘always a worry in this world… no one wants to be sad in the everyday. You’re always sad or worried about something.’ The strong linguistic choices of using declarations show the confidence of the young people in Burnley and further their sense of autonomy in creating artworks that they themselves want to make and distribute.
Later, the group also used their answers to create smaller artworks in the form of badges. Naomi (17yrs) who quickly found a passion in creating badges, says that she enjoyed ‘trying to condense a topic into a small piece using short words and images’ and plans to create more badges whilst ‘targeting a specific theme’ and distributing them in her college. Olivia says that ‘creating badges is a great way of sharing artworks’ and it shows – everyone left the workshop with a small piece of personal art that they can choose to wear or give away to their family and friends as personalised gifts.
The workshop ended with the group turning Burnley Youth Theatre into a temporary art gallery by displaying their banners and sharing them with each other: personal desires were held up side by side and everyone was open about both their work and their interests. Sarfraz Mahmood (23yrs) combined both of the activities by attaching the badges he created to his ‘I want to make music’ banner to combine the two mediums.
Mark Titchner will continue to encourage the young people of Burnley, Wigan and Hull in projecting their internal thoughts into the public realm to help them form an even stronger sense of self-image and to provide the northern towns with a different way of looking at their environments.
Live in Wigan or Hull and want to get involved? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Check out the programme of upcoming events here.