The conventional…

Over the past 7 months I have been developing a project in relation to organisational change; a project based around the positive or negative effect young people are having on the Whitworth today. Have young people changed the gallery? I want to challenge this and find out whether the staff are working differently within the gallery as a result of the Whitworth Young Contemporaries. The Whitworth is a learning institution for the people of Manchester, collaborating with different brands and organisations in order to make the Whitworth a place to visit with friends; creating a relationship between the different age groups, and working together across the gallery.Untitled

Youth today have a number of stereotypes regardless of their background; people believe they have no interest in art, that they are disruptive and irresponsible. So I had time to think about ways we can reflect this in an artistic setting; photo-elicitation; by creating a series of images that represent certain stereotypes of youth today in hopes of gaining a reaction. Photo-elicitation acts as a stimulus; it is a method of allowing visual images to elicit comments; to gain feedback, either good or bad. The typical photo-elicit images include mediums such as graffiti, painting, video and photography, which of course suits my project perfectly as a creative form of evaluation.

I have been inspired by projects from The Retronaut and by the owner of The Plastic Ceiling Project, both are completely different but explore this idea of photo-elicitation and perception when using imagery. They engage their online audience by posting images in regards to certain topics; The Retronaut bringing the past into the present and The Plastic Ceiling Project focusing on relevant topics relating to working mums. Both have been incredibly successful in their attempt to occupy an audience, and I have taken great inspiration from the work they do in getting their point out there and visible.

After presenting the idea to the rest of the group, the scenarios that are apparent to use include ‘ The young curator’, ‘The quiet contemplator’, and ‘The disruptive teen’. These are just some of the scenes we want to create over the next few months, as we need ideas that create controversy, that make people want to be involved with the outcome of the project.

I plan to design and create a forum for all members of staff at the Whitworth, and will encourage them to comment anonymously after each photograph has been submitted. I plan to submit a photograph at the end of each month from the start of the New Year, having carefully planned, curated and edited each image to make sure the photograph reflects what I am trying to convey.

This is a really exciting project, as I know there is a lot of planning to do be done but it is something definitely achievable. It is a great opportunity to get people talking about what they really think in regards to the gallery space and whether there is room for improvement. It would be great to get feedback from all different members of staff as we have over 70 at the Whitworth. It is about collaborating and getting the youth group to want to be a part of something outside of the youth group, and gives them great opportunity to work together and bring new and fresh ideas. The main function of this project is not just to gauge what people think about the gallery, it’s a way for the Whitworth Young Contemporaries to worth together on something worthwhile and extremely important.


Charlotte Davies

Lead Evaluator for Whitworth Young Contemporaries