On Saturday 25 March 2017, Mark Titchner’s exhibition was launched at Hull Central Library. For the past year, he has been working with young people from Hull, Wigan and Burnley to create artworks that are being displayed in public spaces in each of the three cities.
As one of the young people from Hull who worked with Mark, I had to answer his question, "What is it that you want more that anything else in the world?’’
Mark used my response "I want my Dad back" and "Also not to worry about anything" and the other five young people's answers to create his final artworks. Each artwork is named after the young person who answered the question. Mine is a double-sided, teal coloured flag with my answer written across it in white writing that looks very similar to my own handwriting. It flies from the roof of and also hangs inside, Hull Central Library.
I was lucky enough to get to experience hoisting my flag on Wednesday 22 March. I climbed the ladder to the roof wearing my hard-hat and high-vis jacket and then stood in the rain hoisting and un-hoisting my flag a number of times for the photographer. It was hilarious, because every time I tilted my head down, rain water would pour off my hard-hat like a waterfall. Besides the pouring rain and awful outfit, it was a great experience and I also learnt how flags are put up.
On the launch day, loads of people flooded into the library to see Mark’s work. They included family and friends of the young people involved, passers-by who saw something was happening and important people to do with important things. There was a table spread with Subway sandwiches and Domino’s pizzas. There was another table where people could sit and paint placards and answer Mark’s question themselves. There was even a band playing nearer the end. At one point, there was speeches. Each young person involved was asked to say a few words and when it came to my turn my heart was beating far to fast. I don’t do well “on stage” and talking in front of large crowds makes me very nervous, but I managed it without make to much of a fool out of myself so I guess that’s a good thing.
There were also reporters who wanted to interview each of us and photographers who kept positioning us. I must admit, I felt rather like a celebrity.
Going back in time by about a year, myself and some other young people from each of the three cities interviewed three artists in Manchester. Among the three was Mark Titchner who presented his ideas and showed us some of his previous work, as did the other two artists.
At the end, we all had to cast a vote on who we wanted to work with. I will admit that at the time I didn’t think Mark was the best decision for me, but he won the vote fair and square. And in midsummer, I found myself working with him. It soon became clear that he was indeed the right artist and over four workshops we all worked together in Hull, creating art.
The workshops included photo-collage, badge making and t-shirt designing, banner painting and sound recording. The second and last were my favourites. In the badge making workshop we got to use a badge machine, which was the best fun ever and we also got to design our own t-shirts, which were then made for us. In the last workshop we tore up books, chucked pages around, slammed books and ran up and down the stairs numerous times, all of which was recorded for the sounds pieces.
I am going to miss spending time with the lovely young people who joined myself and my friends in Hull during this past year and I will miss working with Mark and the brilliant people from FACT (Jakub & Debbie) and the wonderful Hull Central Library staff.
But this whole thing has changed me in a way. I feel so much more confident since starting this project and I feel far more capable of speaking up and saying what I want to say and letting people know what I think and feel. Also, this project has shown me that art doesn’t have to be painting or a drawing or even a sculpture. It can be anything; even a flag or a brightly coloured wall, a plain banner or even a bookmark with words on it.
Words by Mina Lawton, aged 15 from Driffield.
[Mina has worked with Networked Narrative since 2015]