New art workshops ‘exchange knives for cameras’

(Credit: Emma Barnard)

A local art project for older teens, called Through the Looking Glass, will tackle the issue of knife crime using digital cameras…

A new, Arts Council England-funded project called Through the Looking Glass will ‘exchange knives for cameras’ in Waltham Forest.

Visual artist Emma Barnard, who has co-designed the workshops with the Waltham Forest Young Advisors, will provide sessions for young people aged 14 to 17 in the borough, which aim to encourage creativity and create a body of work that shows the public the impact of youth violence.

In an email interview with the Echo, Emma explains: “In a data driven society where people are often reduced to an algorithm, experience has taught me that everyone has a narrative that is unique to them. My intention is to tell these stories through the art that I create.

“In the workshops my aim is to use creativity as a powerful tool to encourage self – expression, confidence and self-belief. It’s inspiring to witness how creativity has the ability to empower while supporting mental health and emotional wellbeing to enhance lives.”

The first in a series of workshops throughout the year will take place during Easter at Project Zero, The Outset Centre, Walthamstow. Future sessions will be held in Leytonstone and Chingford, for which suitable venues are currently being scouted.

In each workshop, participants will use digital and disposable cameras – rather than smartphones – to capture the borough through their own eyes, as well as being taught creative writing.

Emma says: “I find it interesting that this could potentially be the first time that they use a camera and the experience of taking a photograph, freezing that moment in time will be different for them, hopefully in a more considered and thoughtful way.

“They will also be guided through a workshop that focuses on creative writing, that, I’m excited to say will be led by artist Lemzi. I hope that the end outcome of the workshops will be a cross disciplinary visual narrative of young peoples’ experiences of this current climate.”

Though knife crime is an issue across London, Waltham Forest seemed a suitable fit for the project – in part due to Emma’s connections to the borough.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Waltham Forest Council’s Youth Engagement Manager previously on a pilot project,” she says. “Titled My Endz, the purpose was to work with young people from the Beaumont Estate on a series of creative workshops that explored their experience of the environment they were brought up in.”

Through the Looking Glass artworks will be displayed on social media, in pop-up exhibitions yet to be announced, and will also be shown as part of the E17 Art Trail from 1st to 18th July, in addition to a larger exhibition once the project ends, Covid-19 guidelines allowing.

To find out more, visit Emma Barnard’s official website and Young Advisors Waltham Forest