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Youth Empowerment: visual storytelling and reclaiming community spaces

With an Arts Queensland grant under our arms, this project was due to start in March 2020 with a two week residency to The Philippines along side MicroGalleries. Did this happen? Of course not. Both Lara Furst and Sarah Sculley downed tools, like the rest of the world and brainstormed as to how we were going to deliver this project with the aim of empowering youth. After many postponements, multiple grant amendments and two years later, the project is complete!

The aim: A collaborative project that explores the local and global youth experience and empowers young people to tell their own stories through photography and street art. The project will support young people in reclaiming space and contributing to their communities.

The project started with a collaborative exhibition at Redland Art Gallery. Lara and Sarah worked with local youth - interviewing, spending time with them, running virtual workshops and creating a body of work that embodied both our talents: photography and street art.

As part of this exhibition, Sarah painted a large scale mural on one of the walls within the gallery. The subject of the mural was one of the local youth we worked with. We wanted to explore the energy and vibrance from this subject and encourage younger viewers to visit the gallery.

Lara and Sarah also ran an online Photography and Street Art Workshop for Redland youth during the school holidays. The artist talk scheduled for the opening of the Redland Art Gallery Exhibition had to be cancelled (thank Covid) but we managed to create an introduction to ourselves and our practise via a short video produced by the gallery:

We were optimistically thinking that international travel would be back on the cards by 2021. Crazy right? We started to look within our own backyard at opportunities to work with Youth and to give them a voice and empower them. Having worked with Goondiwindi's Lanescape festival in the past, Lara and Sarah were happy to return to the town to work with the senior art students from Goondiwindi State High School.

Over two days Lara and Sarah ran a photography and street art workshops which covered lighting, composition and story telling, as well as colour, voice and concept. The students took their own photos and printed them at A0 size. They then worked back into the black and white photos to add colour, concept and voice to them. They were then pasted onto one of the walls in town as part of the 2021 Lanescape festival.

The rough drafts of the final posters were hung in the local gallery to show the process behind the artworks.

The student outcomes were uniquely different and thought provoking.

During 2021, Sarah was asked to speak at the virtual ArtsFront talk about Public Art and the potential for tourism and community connection. The talk was presented in Goondiwindi and live streamed.


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