Events

First Light Spotlight – Connecting new photography with writing

16 March 2021

Events

OPEN ROOMS #11: ON THE CORNERS OF ARGYLE AND GLENWOOD – PHOTOBOOK IN COLLABORATION

11 March 2021

Freelance Photographer in Residence Position

23 February 2021

Family Page

23 February 2021

About Alternative Lens

23 February 2021

Projects

Introducing Energy House

23 February 2021

Past Events

Open Rooms #10: All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go

25 February 2021

The Course

12 February 2021

PLATFORM ISSUE 3: HOPE

12 February 2021

Events

OPEN CALL: THE STORY OF LIVERPOOL THROUGH ITS TREES

1 January - 30 April 2021

Events

OPEN CALL: HOMETOWNS

11 February - 31 March 2021

Events

WHAT WE DO IN LOCKDOWN

5 January 2021

HYPERTEXT: Books Beyond Bars – Felix McNulty in conversation with Sarah Jane Baker

28 November 2020

HYPERTEXT: Ruth White – The Role of the Photobook in Representing the British Working Classes

28 November 2020

HYPERTEXT: Yasmine Akim ‘Decolonise art schools & showcase the agency of marginalised people’

28 November 2020

HYPERTEXT: Jason Evans – Sound & Vision

28 November 2020

HYPERTEXT: ROOT-ed Zine – Our Experience of Navigating through Arts and Media as People of Colour

28 November 2020

HYPERTEXT: Present and Continuous Q&A with Liz Wewiora and the Many Hands Craft Collective

28 November 2020

HYPERTEXT: Rose Nordin of OOMK in conversation with Kerol Izwan of Musotrees

28 November 2020

HYPERTEXT: Jade Montserrat in conversation with Nikita Gill

28 November 2020

HYPERTEXT: Sam Hutchinson in conversation with Aram Sabbah of Skatepal

28 November 2020

Get Involved: The Story of Liverpool Through Its Trees

24 November 2020

Past Events

Home Turf: Fans, Foodbanks and Photography

17 December 2020

Past Events

Scottie Press: Digital Residency

7 December - 11 December 2020

Past Events

Tell It Like It Is: Ian Clegg and Laura Robertson in Conversation

20 November 2020

Exhibitions

VR: L— A City Through Its People

5 November - 7 March 2020

Exhibitions

Peer to Peer HK/UK — Lee Wing Ki: Night Walk (an excerpt)

16 November - 30 November 2020

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

Peer to Peer: UK / HK

11 November 2020

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

Watch: Liverpool Slavery Virtual Tour

27 October 2020

A Message From Open Eye Gallery: Covid-19 Update

2 November 2020

Exhibitions

VR — The New West

30 October 2020

Past Exhibitions

TO BE FRANK

30 October - 15 November 2020

Past Exhibitions

THE LIVES WE LEAD

28 October - 11 November 2020

Past Events Past Exhibitions

Love Is An Action: Black History Panel

29 October 2020

Projects

VR — The Time We Call Our Own

3 September 2020

Exhibitions Main Exhibition

Exhibition: L— A City Through Its People

5 November - 7 March 2021

Projects

Harold Offeh — When Was The Time I Could Call My Own?

15 October 2020

Projects

Mirjam Wirz — Sonidero City

8 October 2020

Projects

Open Rooms #9 Access to Art: Who is art for? (w/ Mike Pinnington and Larry Achiampong)

13 October 2020

Projects

PLATFORM ISSUE 2: THE NEW NORMAL

7 October 2020

Past Events

Atrium Exhibition: Illustrating Anthropology

12 November - 30 November 2020

Past Events

Laurence Westgaph: Liverpool Slavery Virtual Tour

27 October 2020

Exhibitions Open Source Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE #18 – KELEENNA ONYEAKA

1 October - 31 October 2020

Projects

Tobias Zielony — Maskirovka

27 August 2020

Projects

Save Some Space (The Time We Call Our Own Online #4)

20 August 2020

Projects

Andrew Miksys — Disko (The Time We Call Our Own: Online #3)

6 August 2020

Projects

Oliver Sieber: Imaginary Club (The Time We Call Our Own: Online #2)

30 July 2020

Projects

Getting Ready: Amelia Lonsdale and Her Mum (#1)

23 July 2020

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions Open Source Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE #17 – SAMANTHA JAGGER

3 September - 30 September 2020

Past Exhibitions

you out tonight?

10 August 2020

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Celebrate Liverpool, Georgia Bond
Caring In Confidence, Georgia Bond
Week By Week, Georgia Bond

A Spotlight On… Georgia Bond

Socially-engaged photographer, Georgia Bond started working with children supported by Cheshire Young Carers in 2019. Her project Caring in Confidence reflects the photographic collaboration between Bond and the young carers, constituted through a series of drop-in photography workshops hosted in respite sessions. The body of work is a process-driven project, which created a space for experimentation of visual art through sustained collaborative practice. It demonstrates that creative opportunities can have positive effects on the mental health of children, specifically young carers.

Kelly Bryan: I understand much of your photography practice has surrounded socially engaged projects, specifically involving children. What encouraged you to follow this path?

Georgia Bond: As an artist, I always wanted to use my practice to help people in some way. I didn’t realise the extent of which I could do this using photography until I was mid-way through my degree. I ran a voluntary photography class for children aged 6-13 in a community centre in Coventry. Fellow artist Tia Bryant and I co-founded the class during our second year of university. Throughout the 6 months, we taught the class the basics of digital and analogue photography through group work. We each kept a scrapbook where we would record what everyone wanted to do in the classes, things that we enjoyed and anything that we felt inspired by. One time, a 7-year-old wrote that she liked the class because it was safe and fun. It was at this point I saw the benefit on the young people we taught, I found it really inspiring.

You are currently employed as a Session Co-Ordinator at Cheshire Young Carers. Please could you tell us a little more about this role and how it has so far influenced your socially engaged practice?

My role with Cheshire Young Carers is to provide respite to children aged 6-18 that care for somebody which includes residential trips, workshops and events. I am lucky that within my role, I have a lot of creative freedom; I design content for the charity including reports and also run creative workshops and trips. As well as this, my role has a large focus on the wellbeing of the children. I have designed and run wellbeing sessions with mental health co-ordinator Daniel Nester.  During these sessions, the young carers learnt about the importance of physical wellbeing, new skills and self-development. A key theme within the sessions was recognising the benefits that come from supporting others whilst also recognising the importance of accessing support for yourself. Through engaging in the creative wellbeing sessions, it helped the young carers see how they can take care of their own mental wellbeing by accessing support, developing coping techniques and identifying steps they can take to make time for self-care. My socially engaged practice and my role at Cheshire Young Carers have intertwined in a sense, I am constantly engaging with the children in a creative manner and with the resources and support that my role gives me, I am able to create socially engaged art with the children I work with over a longer period of time.

Why did you feel this was the right occupation for you?

I knew I wanted to work in a role where I had the opportunity to help people in some way, I was passionate about working with young people and also wanted to be able to work creatively. This job has combined this all for me. I think initially I was worried that my job would have less creative freedom than I imagined, but I have used the skills taught from my degree since starting and been able to build on them in a variety of ways. One of the outcomes from my project with the young carers Caring in Confidence, was a video piece consisting of images taken by all members of the group, interviews between myself, the young carers and those who helped facilitate the project. Since creating this, I have created and edited many videos for the organisation. My creative skillset has expanded as well as my confidence in the work that I create.  

Socially engaged work requires high ethical consideration, particularly when working with children. Could you explain the process required to create a safe space for children during your projects?

The first thing is always consent, with children this has to come from their legal guardian or parent and this includes their right to withdraw. For me, a safe space comes from how you think the collaboration would benefit your participants. The children should understand that they participate at their leisure and that they mustn’t photograph anyone who doesn’t want to be photographed. I believe that as a facilitator the more fun you make the activity, the less pressure they feel to be within that space which in turn makes it more relaxed and enjoyable for them. 

You have worked closely with the participants involved in your socially engaged projects. Please could you provide an insight into the impacts (whether these are positive or negative) socially engaged practice has?

Over the years I have noticed the positive impacts that socially engaged projects have on participants’ wellbeing. I think providing a space for conversation has the ability to impact people in a variety of ways. You never know what may come up, but by creating a safe, open and creative environment for the conversation allows people to express themselves and share. Socially engaged art can be an outlet for many or even a healthy distraction, it allows people to build relationships and collaborate. This sharing of knowledge and creativity in my experience has brought such positive impacts to the communities of people I have worked with. Personally, each project is different in the context of how that young person has positively impacted from the engagement. In self-portraiture sessions and conversations around representation, I have seen children’s confidence develop by using photography as a tool of empowerment. Following a recent photography trip, I received feedback that a young carer found the trip really beneficial as it helped contribute to the enhancement of her emotional and mental wellbeing. Both situations provided a positive space for expression but in different ways that also helped my own wellbeing. Alternatively, I do think that a rigid approach to socially engaged art can bring negative impacts. It is essential that participants are able to express themselves freely without pressure for it to be positive.

How important do you feel socially engaged photography is to your participants? 

I think the act of collaboration and learning something new is important to so many people whether that’s something they’re aware of in that act or it’s a subconscious understanding. I notice the excitement within younger participants a lot, as soon as they join a workshop the first question is when they can use the cameras. I wouldn’t say they recognise this as important, as such, but their participation and enthusiasm that comes from this is important to their development. A teenager that I’ve been working with recently said, ‘I would definitely say that the act of participation is important to them and the benefits even more so.’

Would you say your projects have formed a sense of community amongst the participants involved and if so, what impact has this had? 

The greatest sense of community that derived from a project I did, was during my collaborative body of work Week by Week which was made alongside artist Tia Bryant. The class of children was a group that had never come together before but as the weeks went on, they would be so excited to come into class and see everyone. The children were all from the same community and the class led to friendships being formed outside of the space we had created. 

If applicable, did you notice any developments in the children (this could be mentally/confidence etc.) from starting the project and at the end?

The biggest development that has been continuous in this project is the positive development in confidence within young people. Starting a project, you always have participants who are shy around the camera which is expected but it is always so rewarding when you notice a change in their self-belief. In my most recent project Caring in Confidence, I interviewed the children towards the end and asked them whether they liked being photographed. One young girl told me how she viewed herself had changed throughout the project and she enjoyed having her photograph taken.

I understand socially engaged practice can have an unusual power dynamic between participant and facilitator, particularly if this participant is a child. How do you overcome these concerns? 

When you work with children, you need to safeguard them and yourself and be responsible for their safety.  With that comes the obvious power dynamic, which may suggest that because you are their elder and you have responsibility for their safety that you have control over what they do creatively. I agree that the importance comes with how you navigate this. For me it is all about the respect that you have for your participants as a facilitator. You need to show your participant no matter their age that they create what they would like to and you assist the learning and practice of this. I think tasking participants should act as a prompt rather than a command. I also try to act as a participant to a project by being involved in the same activity as they would instead of instructing them, being there for support when they need it and encouraging freedom within that.

I think we would both agree, it is important to note that socially engaged photographers do not provide their participants with a ‘voice’; instead they create a space in which these individuals can be heard. How do you navigate the control, yourself and the participants have, within your socially engaged projects?

Yes, definitely. It took me a long time to understand the complexity of control within socially-engaged work. You may start a project with an ideal visualisation of how it should end, but this is something you have to avoid. By being open to the variety of ways a project can develop, you respectfully give control to your participants. Your control should lie with ensuring everyone feels safe and comfortable enough to ask for help. Your participants should have their creative freedom, as long as this is done in a manner which is respectful to their fellow participants, this usually means they have a good amount of control. 

What do you feel makes a successful socially engaged project and do you have any tips to achieve this?

I think that a successful socially engaged project is engaging and collaborative with a positive power dynamic which we spoke of earlier. In terms of outcome, as long as participants have equally gained something then to me that is effective as you should want to confidently benefit them in some way. Open dialogue and expression comes with sustained engagement, as does an enjoyable community, which is something I find important. My tips are to make sure it’s something you’re passionate about and want to see a positive result from. Allow your participants to contribute what suits them and always communicate your plans. Always involve your participants in a collaborative manner and of course, make sure you enjoy it!

Do you have any future plans for your photographic work?

Right now, I am working in a variety of ways that I think will influence my future work. I am studying for a diploma in child psychology so that I can use creative practice for wellbeing but with a better foundation of knowledge to do so. When we are able to, I have some exciting photography workshops and trips with the young carers to experiment with the camera in a different capacity, night photography at residentials or landscape photography on nature walks. At the moment I am really focused on combining my interest and passion for both art and mental health.

Kelly Bryan is a writer and visual artist based in the UK. She uses the physicality of photography to poetically explore intangible narratives. She often peers through a phenomenological lens to question themes including belonging, domestic structures and relationships. Alongside fine-art and documentary photography, Bryan is an avid writer with a broad range of professionalism in commercial, art-based and journalistic writing.

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