Responding the theme of the Tyca Festival ‘Breaking Down Barriers’, Tom has taken an interest in creating an open and share space for all, not just for young people.
‘Together we will produce a camp designed to support discussion, empathy and understanding between the people in Taunton through the themes of social justice and equity. The camp would challenge socio-cultural norms and act as an opportunity for undertaking shared, common activities, while offering a space for open discussion and reflection about personal experiences. The outcome will provide a common ground which is open to, and provides understanding of multiple perspectives, in a bid to create connections between divided parts of the community. The project will offer opportunities for participants of different ages to occupy a shared space to undertake creative and universal activities, providing a level playing field within which to indirectly and informally greet and understand one another; we are all humans.’
In September and October, Tom has been working with students from Richard Huish College, University Centre Somerset and Taunton Deane Partnership College to consider topics of division, understanding and acceptance seen through issues that are important to them and how these relate to others.
Tom has already carried out research in August at the archive and museum stores at the Somerset Heritage Centre, to explore and be inspired by the history of young people in Taunton, including local Taunton newspaper articles which instigate discussions and responses to youth representation and culture. He shared his findings with the students by inviting them to visit the Somerset Heritage Centre and meet Archives Engagement Manager Esther Hoyle. Esther also kindly brought the archives materials to Richard Huish College.
In the 2nd sessions, students were asked to talk about what societal challenges they are currently facing. Tom has used this approach to steer the student towards topics such as: local environment, youth services, social media, etc.
‘In a time of political uncertainty, the social realm’s complexities become more apparent, revealing divides between social groups, be that through wealth, race, gender or political interest. We find ourselves in testing times and its crucial that we come to understand and accept the differences in our society to encourage a country that is inclusive, equal and fair.
‘A quote I found recently sums up the sense of the divide in the wake of Brexit:
“… between those who view the nation as a shield that can protect them from and has to be protected against a variety of threats (globalisation, immigration, and terrorism being the main ones); and those who believe that the nation is fluid, open to change and that is a plural, inclusive and cosmopolitan project.”
‘A key area of interest for this project will be the divide between young people and the other parts of the community, a divide which manifests itself through polarising associations of attitude, culture, political stance, and in many instances homophobia, transphobia and racism. It will also seek to reflect the physical and digital divide – as a series of rural isolated communities, young peoples connection with each other is likely to be strongly reliant on social media rather than direct encounters.’
Together the students and Tom had shortlist ideas and refined them into core issues effecting them, to be taken forward in the next session.
The full day workshop sessions were productive. The project has generated a number of ideas/activities for the event on the 1st & 2nd November at the Museum.
‘Everyone is Young Once’ is an activity idea created by a group of students from Richard Huish College. It encourages shared experiences between all ages and to break down the barriers between young and old. They created a number of badge and wristband designs which will be made into giveaways for the exhibition visitors. They will be given to the public who would like to talk to our young people by sharing your first experience with them.
Taking inspiration from youth movement badges that signify membership and achievement, students from Richard Huish College used the device to reflect milestones within young people’s lives in 2019. Picking out moments like your ‘first bad haircut’ or your ‘first broken heart’, the group illustrated their ideas, which were then translated digitally by Thomas Goddard into bold iconographic depictions.
If you would like to receive them, join us at the event at Museum of Somerset (Friday 1 November 1-4pm & Saturday 2 November 10am – 4pm)
Event Details: artstaunton.co.uk/events/arts-installation