20 FEBRUARY - 10 MARCH, 2016
PHILLIPS GALLERIES, LONDON
CURATED BY KATHY ADLER
An exhibition featuring a selection of images taken by young people living on estates in South London, many of them on the Somerleyton estate in Brixton. Through photography workshops delivered by Positive View, the participants found new ways of thinking about their environment and their lives. Their futures have opened up and come into positive sharp focus.
The Somerleyton estate in Brixton, South London, where most of these photographs were taken is entered through a tunnel, taking one into another world.
The bleakness of the setting and the dim lighting suggests danger, fear and negativity. The sheer size of the complex, with its long corridors and numerous stairwells dwarfs and intimidates. But in this harsh environment, young people have made their mark – walls covered with bright intricate tags.
They have found a way to live, and even to express joy and hope.
They cluster in tight groups, in a uniform of hoodies, puffa jackets and designer jeans and trainers, young and defiant.
Their days are often aimless, drifting away in a haze of smoke, dope the all-too-readily available commodity, both for use and for sale.
Participating in photography workshops helps sharpen their awareness of themselves and of their environment. As they pose for the camera, and as they look at the world through a lens, they gain a new sense of themselves and their own potential.
They are empowered, they have agency, they are no longer completely defined by stereotype or negative perception. From their examination of where they live, they move to looking at how they live and how they might move out into a wider world. Positive View’s photography workshops give them respect and hope, and with that, some control of what they might do next. Photography opens an aperture to a different world.