Andy Yates, Our North Project Assistant
In a world that is being shaped on a global scale, how do we still identify with where we’re from? Are young people still shaped by the history and community they live in or are their lives shaped by their new access to a global world, interacted with through a screen? These questions are the foundation of our current Heritage Lottery Funded project with young people, Our North.
Our North is a new project giving the young people of Sefton and Runcorn an opportunity to explore northern identity through the themes of heritage, fashion and culture. Inspired by recent exhibition North: Identity, Photography and Fashion, the young people will work with artists, producers and curators to uncover what the north means to them today. It’s crucial that we overcome the habit of stereotyping young people today, particularly those from the North. Our North seeks to help young people use photography to communicate what their regional identity means to them today.
So far, they have undertaken a number of sessions – research into our photographic archive; interviews with industry professionals; photowalks documenting sites of cultural heritage in Liverpool, Sefton and Runcorn with photographer Stephanie Wynne – all exploring the way the North has been depicted, constructed and celebrated. The sessions have inspired the young people, and their next step is to create their very own fashion shoot.
The fashion shoot will be self-led, combining the interests of the young people with what they have learned during the recent sessions. Fashion is something that plays a role in our lives daily. Every morning we make a conscious decision to get dressed and think about what we are going to wear. During a session with North curator Adam Murray, he raised the question, ‘why did you decide to wear what you’re wearing today?’ This question has greatly influenced the direction of the project as it created a starting place for a discussion about fashion. Whether it’s because it is clean and comfy or because you belong to a certain subculture that dress a certain way, we actively choose what we wear.
Their work will form a new publication, an online showcase on PhotoStories and a digital display in the gallery.