Children from youth justice sites across England and Wales are taking part in an innovative youth enrichment and engagement project.
The project, led by Tate Liverpool and Novus in collaboration with fellow youth justice education providers, uses art as a space to support children to maintain and build family relationships. Through increasing opportunities to participate in arts and cultural activities, children learn new skills and experiences, which encourage engagement in education and support employability and rehabilitation.
Children from HMYOI Cookham Wood, HMYOI Feltham (provision delivered by Shaw Trust), HMYOI Parc, HMYOI Werrington, HMYOI Wetherby and Oakhill STC were invited to respond to a brief set by Tate Liverpool, inspired by the works of British contemporary artist Bob and Roberta Smith, in their own unique way, giving them a voice and space for self-expression. The theme of the project was ‘Family’ and the children used words and icons to express what family means to them.
Sarah Hartley, Novus National Lead for Arts, Family and Enrichment, said: “Engagement with creative projects such as this helps to raise aspirations, build resilience, and support mental health and wellbeing."
At a time when we have all faced challenges through the pandemic, the project has given the children an opportunity to focus in a positive way and it has been great to see their individual responses to the brief.
One of the learners who has taken part in the project spoke about what the opportunity has meant to him: “It gave me an opportunity to think about my family and my choices. It has been an excellent opportunity for my art to be noticed and show how much my art has developed since my time here. I can express my feelings by creating a new style similar to other artists. I learnt a lot about the artists and their styles and made me want to explore more art in different eras and develop my own opinions.”
The project will culminate in an online exhibition of the artworks from each site from 3 September, hosted on the Novus website, followed by a celebration event at Tate Liverpool for the families of those who have taken part in the project. The artworks will be displayed in a studio space at Tate Liverpool for the families to view and celebrate their loved ones achievements, there will also be a range of creative activities for them to engage with.
Video and photographs of the exhibition will be shared with learners at each site so they are able to see their work on display and celebrate and recognise their achievements.