Creative Connections is a four-year project connecting young people with contemporary artists to create new responses inspired by the Gallery’s Collection.
Lead artist, Lucy Steggals shares some of her thoughts from project at the end of this first year where she has worked in the London borough of Tower Hamlets with students from St Paul’s Way Trust school:
To write in a few words about a project with so many layers is tricky below I will attempt to give you a taste of what went on.
Creative Connections for me was very much about setting up situations for conversations both verbal and visual between people, place and portrait. This dialogue began at the gallery specifically in the Heniz Archive. A wonderful and magic place full of thousands and thousands of copies of pictures of people. We, the students and I, were introduced to images of eight sitters from Tower Hamlets and we made them our friends. We stripped them down exploring what colours, shape, patterns and textures each one would be.
We attempted to pass through the illusory layer of their successes and achievements in order to understand them as people like us. Through this process we were able to connect with them and find in them something of ourselves and our own aspirations.
What emerged by carefully editing, re-arranging and re-mixing the students' reflections was a series of eight block puzzles. These puzzles became tools. Our aim was to bring these static/still portraits from a moment in someone's lifetime into the present. To put these sitters back in motion in order to re-see for ourselves and to encourage others to engage in new conversations.
What you can see on display in the exhibition is those tools and the young people's arrangements of the blocks we hope you enjoy them.
Image captions (from top to bottom)
Photograph of Lucy Steggals at work, © Alex Eisenberg
Creative Connections project workshops, © National Portrait Gallery, London
Creative Connections Private View, © photograph Jorge Herrera