This was the first Young@Tate for all of the members of Tate Collective participating.
There was a nervous energy as our Tate Collective group arrived on Saturday 14 March to prepare for the day. While the event is now embedded in our gallery calendar, this was the first Young@Tate for all of the members of Tate Collective participating. All of them had recently completed our Access All Areas course, a two day training workshop designed to get young people ‘behind the scenes’ at the gallery and give them an insight into how to lead and design learning activities, and are well on the way to becoming Peer Leaders. It was my first Young@Tate too, and I was excited to see what the activities that the group had been planning would look like in reality. The theme for the day was #TateFiction, responding to surrealism and the blend of fantasy and true-to life representation in The Modern Lens photography exhibition at the gallery.
After a (slightly scary) slow start (would people show?!), by early afternoon the main hub of activity, our ‘Courtyard’ learning space, was buzzing. Cyanotypes workshops (a kind of early photographic technique) were happening, using black lights (the kind you use in a rave) and blue Solar paper laid over with every-day objects, creating a kind of reverse negative effect fully revealed when washed in water.
“It is great how the day is integrated with the rest of the gallery, but also offers different experiences.” Zara Devereux, Visitor Services Manager.
Attendees from local youth group Flashlight shared the space – and provided an upbeat soundtrack – participating in a T shirt printing workshop. For me, one of the most exciting aspects of the day was the way it drew on our work with partners in the local area. Flashlight’s attendance was the climax workshops with them on the three previous Saturdays. At the close of the day, Tate Collective, gallery staff and Flashlight members trekked down to our Studio Resource gallery space to watch and celebrate a film they’d made at one of these workshops. The day was also a low-key celebration of Pop-Up Tate Penzance, with a film from this project on loop in the gallery. Three young people who engaged with Pop-Up Tate made the journey over together with youth worker Emma Robinson and lead project artist Emma Saffy Wilson, and it was brilliant to welcome them to the gallery.
In addition to the films, there were a number of activities happening beyond the courtyard space. Both Tate Collective’s Sculpture, or is it? workshop (paper sculpture making based on Lygia Clark’s piece Thing) and Make me a Story activity (inviting people to create their own stories in response to some of the works in the exhibition, mixing their first impressions with fact with fiction) felt warm, even gentle, compared to the group’s Fact or Fiction surreal tours. There was so much demand for these that they had to put another on last minute. Going on one of these tours myself really was a surreal and unnerving experience – being playfully spun yarns mixed with accurate facts, and being unsure of what was true and untrue was surprisingly unsettling.
Watch this space for the next Young@Tate on Saturday 27 June, 11.00-15.00. Tate Collective are working with their new artist mentor Ali Roscoe and artist/ choreographer Sara Wookey to explore how people move through and experience gallery spaces. If you’re aged 15-25 and want to get involved in planning and delivering the day, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or just come along to Tate Collectives.