The Doors Project

This exhibition presents a complex idea: how you can flip your ideas from negative to positive? It involves the notion of opening doors to progress the journey of your life. You should view the exit through one door as a celebration and, equally, as an entrance to a new opportunity. Our art represents certain aspects of our lives, and the law that plays a part in young people turning eighteen and the responsibilities that are bestowed upon us. [Caprice, young care leaver]

This special collaboration between YAK and the Young Care Leavers playfully expands on the age old saying ‘When one door closes, another door opens’, incorporating the idea of how you can flip your ideas from negative to positive. This installation asks the audience to contemplate the crossing of thresholds as a progression – where the exiting of one door is seen as a celebration and equally an entrance to a new opportunity.

More specifically it aims to tackle the issues young people in care face when they reach the age of eighteen. This milestone age can suddenly change the circumstances these young people are faced with, where governmental support is reduced and the responsibilities placed on the individual increase dramatically. The interactive nature of the installation puts the viewer in a position of fluctuating experiences, provoking both exciting and uncertain reactions. 

The Doors project was created in collaboration with artists David Norton and Hester Chillingworth.


Well, where to begin. The project was called doors, and it was created for Circuit Flipside Festival at Firstsite, and to celebrate care leavers week. Care leavers week was 24th – 30th October 2016. [Words by Charlotte Winters, young care leaver]

It started with three of us, but it in the end  it bubbled down to me being the constant that was involved. We came to our first YAK meeting around the beginning of April 2016, feeling quite nervous. As the weeks past there was various ideas tossed around: we didn’t have a particular idea that we could stick to! But I defiantly got a lot less nervous.

It then got to the point where we sat… well the others sat with me, since I am always sitting, looking at the space we had and talked about it. Finally an awesome idea came out: doors! Originally it was going to be 10 doors in a straight line, that would sometimes be locked, sometimes not with different things behind them.

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This was to represent the boundary between the last night of being 17 to the next day when you turn 18. With the way the system is, its almost as if something is meant to bite you on your last night of being 17 so the next day you wake up all boring and like to eat things like broccoli voluntarily.
People have this conception that as the phrase goes everything lands in your lap, or have no idea at all. But it’s not like that! It’s always about things like meeting criteria and funding. Pretty much everything gets taken away once you are 18, you are meant to be independent and able to cope. There is minimal or no support. It represents the lack of opportunities, and crossing thresholds.

More weeks passed, and the doors were the idea that had stuck. (It was mainly me coming along to meetings at this point.) It developed from the thought of just being doors that would open and show things behind them to doors that would have different ways of opening, or wouldn’t open at all. This was to represent the lack of support and options in the system, and the difficulties with criteria.

There then was a session with Dave who does awesome techy things. Different ideas evolved. There was a simple thing like a bolt on a door, to things like a machine that asked you questions to supposedly open a door but never did. The random questions would just go around on loop.

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There was then also my personal favourite idea, the door that was really high small so the world couldn’t reach it but looked the most tempting and therefore be the one you wanted to go through most.

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Dave worked with the techs to put up the doors and the frames, and making sure each of the devices worked. There was in the end two doors that opened the webcam and the door with multiple handles, the most random one opened it and the others didn’t.

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There was also a door with about 50 key fobs but never opened, one with a peep hole, one with a blind that came down as you went towards it showing you could never get through and a letterbox that made random sounds. This was really awesome when the exhibit opened because people both young and old were using them. They were also feeling intense frustration at them not opening, which is the feeling we get from the system.

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If you go back through a door you previously walked though, would the situation you left still be the same, or would it change? If you encountered the same door twice, what would be different in taking the same route with the same opportunity now that time has passed?