Our Time, Our Place: Young People

As one element of Our Time, Our Place, the project partners connected with three groups of young people from Salford, Birkenhead, and Ellesmere Port, to equip them with photography skills, and empower them to engage in discussions about current issues and explore their own histories in response to Craig Easton’s work.

Salford Youth Service, Little Hulton

Two young people looking at their work installed as part of Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening at the University of Salford, 2023.
Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? At the University of Salford, 2023. Photography by Jason Lawson.

For Our Time, Our Place in Salford, The University of Salford Art Collection worked with Socially-Engaged Photographer, Gwen Riley Jones and Salford Youth Service to connect with 12 young people, aged 11-16 based in Little Hulton.

Guided by Riley Jones, the young people met weekly for a series of workshops to hone their photography skills, explore their local surroundings and develop meaningful connections. The group used Easton’s work as a starting point, discussing what the images meant to them, and through visits to Salford’s Working Class Movement Library and the University of Salford Art Collection and archives they explored ideas of heritage and legacy, and the role of collections for future generations.

A photograph showing a young person in nature, using a DSLR camera to take a picutre of a transgender pride flag, floating in the air.
Our Time, Our Place engagement session in Salford, 2023. Photography by Nick Harrison.
The young people visiting the University of Salford Art Collection. Photography by Gwen Riley Jones.

Salford’s Youth Work Manager, Rob Fulton discussed how the project connected with and impacted the young people involved:

“What’s been really good is that this group has attracted different types of young people, young people that wouldn’t normally engage with youth groups.”

“We talked about what heritage and culture are. They were much more interested in showing where they were and giving a positive spin on their area, wanted to look at the good places, how it’s green.”

“They’re learning a new vocabulary, learning how to talk about taking pictures and about art […] The change in these kids from the programme and the confidence I’ve seen..!”

The young people expressed how transformative the programme was for them, sharing:

“My identity has changed by doing this. It’s hard to say. It’s made me think more about what I want to identify as, […] This has been a chance of freedom, to really think.”

Another sharing:

“Since I’ve come to this group I’ve joined other groups and socialised with more people so it’s helped me realise how important it is to socialise with people so I’ve felt a lot better as well.”

Images created by young people from Salford are presented against a concrete wall.
A selection of the young people’s work installed in the New Adelphi Atrium, 2024. Photography by Jason Lawon.
A photograph of work installed against a white wall. The work shoes a young person with their hands over their face, surrounded by handwritten text reading: friendship isn't about you... it's about the memories we make... and the places we go!!!
Details from the young people’s work installed in the New Adelphi Atrium, 2024. Photography by Jason Lawon.

Through the programme, the young people created powerful work exploring the issues most important to them from gender identity to wellbeing and mental health. Their work was initially displayed at the Little Hulton Family Hub, where they transformed the space and shared their creativity with the community. It then went on to be shown as part of Is Anybody Listening? in Salford, filling the New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery and Atrium. The young people’s work was showcased at the University alongside the photography from Easton which inspired the programme and works commissioned in response to the exhibition by graduating students.

The group of young people in Salford, with Lindsay Taylor, the ceremonial mayor of Salford after recieving their cameras.
The young people with their new cameras at the Is Anybody Listening? celebration event in Salford, 2023. Photography by Jason Lawson.

At the exhibition’s celebration event in November, the young people who participated in the programme were each awarded cameras, to ensure they have the tools to continue to meet and document their stories through photography. The young people’s photography is now hung in the University’s prestigious Council Chambers as a legacy of Our Time, Our Place in Salford.

Watch the creative responses from James & Jacob, two of the young people from Little Hulton here:

Is Anybody Listening? at The University of Salford.

Exhibition Handout: Is Anybody Listening? at The University of Salford, 2023.

BLOG: End of Year Reflections by Lindsay Taylor (featuring Our Time, Our Place)

Glow CIC & Pilgrim Arts Centre, Birkenhead

For Our Time, Our Place in Birkenhead, Pilgrim Art Centre and Glow CIC connected with a group of 6 young women, aged 14-15 for a series of workshop sessions in May 2023.

The 6 young women had recently completed “Focus” an introductory photography course with Glow CIC, which specialises in training young people to deliver their workshops to other young people groups.

The young women shared their newfound skills with other young people at the Pilgrim Art Centre. Over 10 sessions, they connected with different groups and participated in a variety of activities. As a result, the young women were able to pass on their skills, empowering the young people to share their own stories and communities.

Led by Suzanne St Clare, the group explored heritage as ‘lived through the lens’ and tacked the history of social documentary photography. They also visited Is Anybody Listening? at Blackpool School of Art, where the young people explored how they felt about Easton’s social documentary.

Through an introductory workshop to bookmaking, the young people developed the skills to present their photographic work. The group produced a presentation folio which was included in the final Is Anybody Listening? exhibition at the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum.

Images from The Wirral Borough of Culture launch at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, featuring the work of young people with the Pilgrim Arts Centre & Glow CIC. Courtesy Williamson Art Gallery & Museum.

The Wirral Borough of Culture Launch Event at Williamson Museum & Art Gallery

Whitby High School, Ellesmere Port

The People and Places exhibition installed at Open Eye Gallery, with young people looking at the work installed on the walls.
People and Places at Open Eye Gallery, 2023. Photography by Rob Battersby.

For Our Time, Our Place, Open Eye Gallery connected with long-standing partners Whitby High School. Thirteen Year 12 students developed their own individual photography projects in response to Craig Easton’s Is Anybody Listening? at Open Eye Gallery.

Exploring the theme of ‘People and Places’ the student’s work explores the complex relationship between numerous aspects of life, from stories of new beginnings, questioning our intentions with the planet we call home, to challenging our beliefs about identity, individuality and belonging.

Kit Abramson, Programme Manager, Is Anybody Listening? Our Time, Our Place said: “The urgency of Whitby High School and Open Eye Gallery’s work relates to the intergenerational nature of poverty, economic hardship and the representation & misrepresentation of northern communities. As we face a crippling cost-of-living crisis and the long-term fall-out of a catastrophic pandemic, these themes are more apparent and relevant than ever. People and Places equips young people with the skills and understanding to have pride in, and recognise the value of, their own heritage, seeing it as something worth preserving and developing the confidence to document it from the inside out – giving a louder and rooted voice to the people that make and represent ‘place’”.

Installation view of People and Places at Open Eye Gallery, with groups of artwork presented against a white wall.
Installation View: People and Places, Open Eye Gallery, 2023. Photography by Rob Battersby.
View of two monocrome photographs installed in People and Places at Open Eye Gallery.
Detail of work installed in People and Places at Open Eye Gallery. Photography by Rob Battersby.

Student Megan McHugh said: “For this project with Open Eye Gallery, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. It has enabled me to engage creatively in the project by constantly experimenting and developing new skills. From this programme, I was able to develop confidence and experience new opportunities and ideas which further helped me to develop my photography.”

People and Places, an exhibition of the student’s work was shown at Open Eye Gallery 26 – 30 April, 2023, and toured to Ellesmere Port Library as part of the Community exhibition from 26 October 2023 – 11 April 2024.

People and Places at Open Eye Gallery

BLOG: People and Places by Andreea Mate

Community at Ellesmere Port Library

Is Anybody Listening? Our Time, Our Place is presented by the University of Salford and generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.