12 December 2014

Hannah Lea


March 2014 saw the start of my journey at FACT. I cringe slightly saying that but that’s what it feels like, I really didn’t know where it was going to take me or what I was even going to get out of it; I was just looking forward to getting involved.

I started volunteering in the FACT galleries for the Science Fiction: New Death exhibition, which was amazing. I didn’t really know much about the artists featured at first or have much of an idea of what each day would bring – but that didn’t really matter; with time that all changed. I was able to talk about the artists and their work (and go on to write blogs about them too), but what mattered most was that I was enjoying my time in the galleries and was able to talk to so many different people about what was going on.

Getting yourself out there can be one of the hardest things to do as a young person trying to build a career, get some experience doing something new or just meeting like-minded or different people. But honestly, once you make that first step and sign up, join in or whatever it may be, it can take you anywhere.

Since volunteering I have learnt so many new things, including the value of meeting new people. It’s all about connecting with those that can help you and helping them in return. I have now done work experience, internships and have continued freelance at FACT as a blog writer and project support for Prysm, a major new art project for young people (previously called Networked Narrative).

We’re still in the really early stages of the project, but the young people who are already involved have played a huge part. Every few weeks/ months, everyone is invited to a workshop or meeting to share their ideas for the project. So far we’ve been to Smiling Wolf’s design studio and travelled to Liverpool, Hull and Manchester for loads of different meetings and events. Megan and Scott (who are taking part) were even on the panel interviewing the project’s creative director, Debbie.

I can’t stress just how important young volunteers are to this new project; they are the ones making all of the big decisions about the artwork and the project as a whole. To try and explain what I mean, I’ll give an example…

During the last branding workshop at Smiling Wolf’s studio in Liverpool, there were discussions about what we could change the project name to. Everyone wanted something that sounded sharper and more dynamic – something that fitted what the project was about. So after team brainstorming, word play and looking through Smiling Wolf’s amazing studio, it was decided – by those taking part in the project – to change its name to Prysm.

Now, I think not only is this a really cool name, it shows just how much input young people have on this project – its not been influenced or restricted by older people who do this just as a job, not really getting where you’re coming from and are guessing what ‘young people might like’. It’s up to each and every person to develop this project over the next two years and make it into what they want it to be.

I just want to quickly explain why we chose Prysm. Yes, I know, it isn’t spelt correctly (this originally started as a mistake but we all really liked it so it stuck), but basically it captures exactly what the project is about and quite cleverly links lots of points in the project. We can think of the three locations of the project (Burnley, Hull and Wigan) as points of the ‘Prysm’, all linked by their libraries and this project. Also, a really nice way to think of it is that everyone is putting something into the project and the artwork and each person can get something completely different out of it – like light travelling through a prism.

So looking forward to the New Year, when the newly named Prysm will really get started, this is a great project to start out in (much like I did at FACT). The project works with people aged 13-25 in the Burnley, Hull and Wigan areas and will bring innovative new art commissions into library spaces.

For anyone in Burnley wanting to get involved, please visit Burnley Central Library or contact Georgia Brown on 01282 437 115 or email Georgia.Brown@lancashire.gov.uk

In Hull, please visit Hull Central Library or contact June Lightfoot by emailing june.lightfoot@hullcc.gov.uk

And in Wigan, please visit Wigan Library or contact Helen Seddon, on 01942 827 404 or email H.Seddon@wlct.org