Enthusing Young Minds

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Anthotype by Chris G Smith

Paprika mixed with water, left in direct sunlight for a few hours with a digital positive placed over the emulsion,


Exhibition

Opens 22nd October

Come see the work produced by the Young Aspiring Artists.

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The Project so far...

Phase 1

Taking the photographs,

learning to develop the negatives, learn and develop skills in photography, chemistry, math, literacy, patience, resilience, self awareness and being able to focus.

Phase 2

Using the photos taken in PHASE 1 to create Anthotypes. Developing an awareness of alternative processes to be more sustainable, eco friendly and cost effective. Additional skills learnt are, biology of plants and some basics of botany while further developing skills like patience and resilience.

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Aircraft by J.Doyle, aged 9.

Free Reign

BP, Saltend by I.Riley, aged 11.

Free Reign

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If I could be anyone, by M.Doyle, aged 17

See Me

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Describe yourself, by D.Welham, aged 16.

See Me

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My favourite space by T.Keogh, aged 13.

See Me

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My hero by C.Huntley, aged 15.

See Me

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Leaf imprint into beetroot coated paper by Chris G Smith

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Two Icons printed into bramble and buddleia coated paper by Megan Doyle (17yrs)

Enthusing Young Minds is a project aimed at Young Aspiring Artists (YAA), giving them the opportunity to experience photography in a way that they never have before; through the use of vintage cameras. The YAA, aged between 5 and 17, were each loaned vintage box cameras which they learnt to load with film.

As the YAA completed the below briefs, they learn how to develop their own negatives, providing them with a unique experience that they will likely remember for many years to come. The awe and excitement that each of the YAA showed when they saw the images on the negatives for the first time took me back to my first experience. It was from this point that I knew that this project was important and needed to be continued.

There are many skills and lessons that are being developed in the background of the project without the YAA really seeing what they're getting out of this participatory project. Firstly, they're learning photographic skills using analogue methods. These are a good foundation as these are skills that can be adapted to digital photography should they choose that path in the future. They learn more about their subjects and become more self aware in the process. They also learn some aspects of history, literacy (visual) and chemistry and math (photographic chemicals, how they work with each other and the process required for developing their negatives and the ratios of chemicals to water). 

Further to the skills already mentioned, the YAA also start to develop life skills that are important but are being lost in today's instant gratification society. Patience and resilience.

Unlike with the use of digital cameras or mobile phones, they're unable to view their images immediately. They have to be patient and wait until the full roll of film is exposed and there is time to develop them. The YAA then also have to wait while the developing process is taking place as different films require different times within the developing tank and yet have to wait further for the negatives to dry.

The images on the 75+ year old cameras may not always turn out as well as they'd hope due to the primitive technology, unintentional camera movement (slower shutter speeds) and available light/film sensitivity (ISO/ASA). Yes some of the images on each film have been less than perfect but the resilience of the YAA kicked in and they were excited to try again and improve on their next turn!

1st Brief - Free Reign

In this brief, the Young Aspiring Artists were asked to photograph whatever they wanted. This was to give them some freedom and to allow them the opportunity to tell us, or show us a story or a part of their life that they deem significant - and the didn't disappoint!

Initially, this was deemed by some of my lecturers as quite a bold and potentially dangerous move for the project as I had no control over what would come back to me, and I agreed with them. I did however think this was exciting, not knowing how this would turn out, almost like Stephen Gill's work "Outside In" when he adds debris into his camera before he take his photos, also not knowing what the images will turn out like.

The level of insight that came from this brief allowed us, the viewers, the consumers of the images, a glimpse of the world through the eyes of the Young Aspiring Artists. Please check out the gallery page for Free Reign for a selection of the images taken.

FREE REIGN GALLERY

2nd Brief - See Me

In this brief, the Young Aspiring Artists (YAA) were given eight questions to answer with the eight exposures that they get on the box brownie cameras that they were using. This brief was designed to encourage the YAA to slow down, think and consider what images they wanted to take, and think about how to take the desired pictures with certain constraints, such as available light, etc.

Some of the YAA did struggle with this to start with and needed a small amount of coaching to get their creative juices flowing. Once they realised that they could be as creative or as literal as they liked, they started to enjoy this brief too. It gave the YAA the opportunity to tell us about themselves, what they like and how they feel; it was all about them and how they see themselves.

Once again, the YAA surprised me in how creative they could be and how they see themselves, or how they want to be seen. One question asked "Who/ what would you be if you could be anything/ anyone?" and one answer in particular I found to be amazing. Meg, 17, answered that question with "I wouldn't want to be anybody but me. I am happy in my own body, I am who I am."  What an amazing positive image for a young lady to put out there; an inspiration to others.

List of the questions:

1. Describe yourself

2. What is your perfect day?

3. What/who would you be if you could be anything/anyone?

4. What is your favourite hobby?

5. Show me your favourite space

6. What is your favourite childhood memory?

7. Who is your hero?

8. What is the first thing that made you smile today?

SEE ME GALLERY

3rd Brief - Remember When

Remember When is still currently in production.

This brief asks the Young Aspiring Artists to regale a memory. One that you might share with friends or family, the kind where you always start with "Do you remember when..." 

Remember When is designed to open their minds and learn to tell stories using pictures they they have thought about, planned and executed increasing their visual literacy skills.

Keep tuned for further updates on this brief as it progresses.

Phase 2

Phase 2 of Enthusing Young Minds focuses on alternative practices that allow the Young Aspiring Artists to print their images taken during the first phase of the project with the aim of being environmentally conscious and cost effective too. This is particularly important during the cost of living crisis, and the climate emergency that are have to be at the forefront of our developing practices to ensure that we reduce our negative impact on the environment, reduce our costs, while still enjoying the arts.

After researching some alternative processes to printing, I decided upon Anthotypes. This printing process uses plant matter, paper and sunlight and can be done with very little cost. Phase 2 of the project began with my own experiments to see what materials would work best and would be cheap to source. I found paintbrushes and old frames in charity shops and sourced beetroot and spinach from local shops. I picked leaves of trees and bushes and took paprika and turmeric from the spice rack to see which plant matter would work the best. The plant matter was cut into small pieces then mashed up with Isopropyl alcohol using a pestle and mortar. Once again, thinking economically and ecologically, a pestle and mortar does not require electricity. After straining the plant juices (emulsion) through a cloth, it was painted onto watercolour paper and left to dry in a darkened room. Finally a positive image was printed onto acetate then layered onto the coated paper and clipped in a frame and left out in the sunshine.

My first couple of attempts did not work but I persevered with it to finally produce some great results using beetroot, spinach, turmeric and paprika. The paprika was the quickest to print in the sun with it taking only a few hours, whereas the beetroot and spinach took in excess of a week to print. At this stage, I also learnt that I needed to find a better way to coat/ dry the papers as can been seen the leaf imprint into beetroot coated paper, there were large splodges that dried on the paper.

Workshop 1

In the first workshop, there were three of the Young Aspiring Artist, Jack Doyle (9yrs), Megan Doyle (17yrs)  and Izzy Riley (11yrs). They initially tried the paprika mixed with alcohol but soon started experimenting with plants from the garden. Meg produced a purple emulsion on her paper by mixing brambles, buddleia and isopropyl, Jack produced a vibrant green emulsion on his paper by mixing comfrey, daisy leaves and nettles with isopropyl and Izzy also created a purple emulsion by mixing holly hock, rose petals and isopropyl. These experiments were done by the Young Aspiring Artists which allowed them to become more excited by what they were trying. 

The prints started working with the paprika being the quickest and the rest taking about a week to print but with some amazing results! It wasn't just the kids that were amazed by these results, the parents were to, comparing it to science and art classes from when they were at school.

Workshop 2

In the second workshop, there were three more participants, Demi Welham (16yrs), Tom Keogh (13yrs) and Cardlin Huntley (16yrs). They each picked an ingredient to try with Demi picking the red cabbage, Cardlin choosing the paprika and Tom picking the beetroot. Between the three of them, they coated enough paper to take the extra sheets home with them to clamp in a frame once their first Anthotypes were completed. Each of the Young Aspiring Artists have expressed how much fun this process is and how they would like to continue to use the method going forward.

Meg even went as far as to recreate the workshop, putting her own spin on it for other children who are currently not participants within my project. The learner became the teacher.

ANTHOTYPE GALLERY

Read more about anthotypes and other alternative processes HERE

Read an interview about Enthusing Young Minds by AlternativePhotography.com HERE

Let’s Collaborate...

If you have any ideas about a collaboration, please do send me a message.

Do you have an exhibition space? Would you like to exhibit this work?

I am also looking for funding in order to keep this project running for as long as possible; donations of funds, equipment, film, paper or chemistry would be highly appreciated.

Thanks for submitting!

GET YOUR COPY NOW!

Get your copy of the Enthusing Young Minds Zines.

Issue 1 - Free Reign  OUT NOW!

Issue 2 - See Me   OUT NOW!

Issue 3 - Remember When   COMING SOON!

£3,50 each or 2 for £6 (plus p&p)

All profits help to fund the continuation of the project.

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