Young people get creative to express their identity

Art has been bringing young people together across North Yorkshire.

A member of the Made with Pride group works on graffiti art

The 1Community Project is an initiative of Connecting Youth Culture (CYC), the specialist arts team that is part of North Yorkshire County Council’s commercial North Yorkshire Education Services. Funding for the project has come from the Community Fund of the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire.

CYC has been working with groups across the county, including travellers, refugees, young carers, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) young people and victims and perpetrators of hate crime to create art that gives voice to their diversity and identities. The results of their efforts will be exhibited locally before being united in a single exhibition later this year.

The work will be displayed at local events and exhibitions in different parts of the county before being brought together for a joint exhibition in the autumn.

County Councillor Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “This project brings together young people to celebrate their different cultures and individual identities. Through their own creativity they are producing art that challenges stigma and stereotypes and explores the effects of prejudicial attitudes and actions.”

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: “My Community Fund was set up to support schemes like the 1Community Project which engage young people, promote community spirit and give a voice to those too often not heard in society.

“Over 100 young people have been proactively engaged with this project across seven different areas of North Yorkshire. It has also created lasting partnerships in some of the most deprived areas of the county and with some of the most isolated groups of young people. I am proud to be able to support it.”

The projects

Reflections saw Syrian refugees newly arrived in Northallerton came together as a community to design and create clay tiles. These were hand-painted and decorated to create art that reflected on their culture and lives in Syria as well as their new lives in the UK. The work was exhibited at the North Yorkshire Refugee Celebration Event in June. The project was supported by Thirsk English as an additional language and Gypsy Roma and Traveller Service, Churches Together and the Refugee Council. 

Made with Pride brought together LGBTQ young people from around the county over six weeks to design, develop and create art that celebrated their identities and the LGBTQ community, giving a voice to the community to which they belong. They created bunting, banners and sculptures using graffiti and stencilling alongside creative writing to challenge stigma and celebrate LBGTQ identity. The work went on exhibition at Harrogate Pride in June where it was transformed into interactive public art work for the community to enjoy. The young people also offered support to other LGBTQ young people by offering art workshops and information. The project was supported by the County Council’s prevention service and health and wellbeing team, LGBTQ champions and Harrogate Pride.

This is us! saw a group of young travellers from Seamer Travellers Site near Stokesley take part in a ten-week arts programme. They planned, designed and created a piece of art that represented them as young travellers in today’s society and celebrated their travelling community. The group created a mixed-medium mosaic in the shape of a traveller’s wheel. It included sections about sport, family, love, traveller traditions, traditional and modern caravans and their love of horses. The group was challenged during in-depth conversation about their own prejudices, stereotypes and beliefs as well as that of other people in their communities. The work will be exhibited at the library in Stokesley during September. The project was supported by Thirsk English as an additional language and Gypsy Roma and Traveller Service and Horton Housing.

Pieces of our Community saw three diverse groups of young people from Scarborough and surrounding areas take part in a 12-week programme. The groups represented Woodlands Academy for young people with special educational needs, young LGBTQ communities and the Cambian Group Scarborough School for those who have been excluded from mainstream education. They worked within their community groups to create three pieces of a large jigsaw sculpture to represent their identities and communities within Scarborough. The completed pieces fit together perfectly as an example of diversity and community harmony. The work will be exhibited in Woodend Art Gallery during September. The project was supported by the Cambian Group, Woodlands Academy, MESMAC and the County Council’s Healthy Child Team.

A young carers group made up of young carers from Hambleton and Richmondshire meets monthly to provide vital peer support as well as a voice for all young carers in this region with the support of the Hambleton and Richmondshire Young Carers Service. The 1Community Project has linked in with these meetings to work with the 14-strong group aged between eight and 16 to create a variety of graffiti and sculpture art representing their goal of showing that anyone could be a young carer no matter their race, religion or family background, and raising awareness about the issues that young carers face. This work is ongoing and it is hoped to complete it in September.

Colburn Primary School year 5 class has enthusiastically participated in an eight-week  1Community project that has seen the class of 21 people design, create and develop a range of small clay sculptures representing words, such as ‘love, support and security’, all words that they felt described what they wanted from their communities. This work is nearing completion and should be ready for local exhibition in September once the school returns from its summer break.

This story was published 13 August 2018