From April to June 2016, Circuit Cambridge group member and artist, Jack Cornell, worked on a new partnership project with Girton Youth Project. Girton Youth Project’s Manager, Tim Shuker-Yates, had worked with his group over several years to support them in building up their artistic confidence but he was now looking for a fresh injection of ideas and some peer-support to encourage the young people to take on new risks and develop their arts awards. Tim also felt that his group did not know how to access local opportunities and that becoming involved with Circuit would create a supportive network for the more marginalised young people in the project.
We decided to connect the work that Jack was doing with GYP with the Circuit Cambridge group’s work, starting with recruiting the project artists from a pool of young people in our core group. Both groups worked independently on Circuit Unlocks Digital, a one day celebration of digital art, coming together on a few occasions in the run up to the event and taking part in the day as one team.
Jack Cornell shares more about the project below:
In April I began a project with Girton Youth Project. I was informed that the group were heavily into graffiti, and that they wanted to put together a collection of works to be exhibited in Cambridge.
My immediate thoughts were how could I challenge the group to look at making works through mediums other than spray paint.
My first workshop introduced these ideas through looking at past or present works through technology. Adapting and abstracting their artworks through lenses / surfaces and digital technology itself. This was really an exercise to get the group looking at alternative methods of producing images, and led them to their next task.
I was.. to be honest I was confused, I didn’t even really get the whole idea until I actually sat down and looked at it and then when we were actually doing it I was thinking yeah this is actually sound like learning new stuff. – GYP Participant
Over the next two sessions the group began to create collages and drawings using images from the workshop as well as found photos / materials.
Conceptually, there was no specific context for the work. I wanted the project to really be lead by the group, so was interested in how their own practices and participation into the work would form a conceptual framework.
I felt quite Skeptical about it because nothing I’d done before an I thought it was gonna be kind of like all digital work and at first I didn’t take to it off to my style, so at first I was just kept having to be forced down a rout that I didn’t want..but it was fun in the end. – GYP Participant
I was however running a parallel workshop with a local primary school at the same time. This project was linked to the school curriculum subject ‘Ancient Greeks’. The students were analysing anamorphic creatures, hybrids from ancient Greek mythology. Students were tasked with analysing the idea of cybernetic organisms – looking at the fusing of technology and human beings, and produced collages of robot like Cyborgs.
This concept did feed into the collages in some cases, as we discussed the children’s work in a couple of sessions, and became prevalent through the image making processes we explored.
The group began to take the physical works, collage and drawings and using digital editing methods began to transform their works; this was done through data bending (converting the image to sound, editing the sound files and re exporting as images – creating glitches) and photo editing on Photoshop.
Yeah, it was all kind of like whoa what’s all this (data bending).. it was fun to do it. And I didn’t really know how my art was gonna turn out in it, but I liked how it did. Definitely.
With an exhibition date now confirmed to be showcasing with the Circuit Cambridge group (I was a member of the group) at ‘circuit unlocks digital’ at Cambridge Junction, we began to explore how to bring the works together into a coherent body. The group analysed images of shows and exhibitions, and decided they wanted to experiment with the installation of their works by producing wooden structures and display stands.
I thought it (the exhibition) was gonna be like really like big room just alone just us standing there watching people look at our work but people actually came to talk to us about it and stuff! – GYP Participant
The final exhibition comprised of a number of prints including one large-scale wall hanging print, the group’s wooden structures, as well as large painted boards. The work had lots of interest and the group were actively engaged with the public when discussing the project and its outcomes. Since running these workshops, I have met up with the group and discussed future potential of continuing our creative relationship. The participants definitely left the project feeling proud because of the diverse approaches to making that they explored, and have subsequently invested more time in other creative mediums.