We Brought 5 British Activists To The V&A, This Is What Happened
Who cares? Whose going to spend their free time sitting around listening to a bunch of young people talk about what they wanna do with their spare time? Turns out, I was right, a lot of people will! Especially when these young people are spending their free time trying to change the world around them, and can speak with such influence that can turn any pessimist into an optimist.
For those of you that didn’t hear the latest, we linked up with the Victoria & Albert Museum and were apart of November’s Friday Late. It was awesome. It was absolutely awesome. Creative energies were high, friendships were forming. There was art, there was activism, there was poetry and there was even a few cats. It was beautiful.
If you didn’t already know the V&A opens their doors until late, the last Friday of every month to host a number of really cool workshops, and mini events and sessions typically under a certain theme. So when the Victoria & Albert Museum informed me that this Friday Late was called Rising, and themed around Youth Culture, I was immediately excited and the gears were turning.
I thought this was a really beautiful theme to cover because being young is all about growth and self-discovery, better understanding your surroundings, recognising, challenging sometimes even embracing image stereotypes. It’s about making a mark, pushing boundaries and trying your best to do whatever you want. We decided to highlight the work of 5 brilliant people that are breaking moulds in London right now and I wanted to find a way to capture their greatness through art. Enter: Life Drawing!
I love to create a space where even people who typically never interact with art materials can join in and give it a go. I think art is for everyone.
So with some help I set up this little area inside the Raphael Room at The V&A with some paper, some pencils, and brought in social activists to pose as models while talking about their work and causes.
Our first model of the evening was Shaz Hussain, the assistant curator of the Science Museum and creator of the White Privilege Clinic, which is challenging the Male Pale and Stale routine within our society. She's a member of Museum Detox which is network of people on colour working in museums and she was recently featured in I-D Magazine online along with one of our other models for being one of Britains young political change makers.
Next we had Athian Akec who was elected as the Youth MP for the Borough of Camden in April 2018, and is the London Coordinator for Our Future, Our Choice which is a youth group campaigning for a Peoples Vote on the Brexit. Athian's campaigns centre around the decriminalisation of drugs, the end to the income inequality and an end to the knife crime epidemic that is claiming too many young lives.
His work was recently highlighted during an interview on ITV News regarding the speech he presented at the House of Commons.
We also had Brixton’s Shiden Tekle who is part of the campaign called Legally Black which focuses on the misconceptions of black people and works to tackle underrepresentation in the media. You might have seen posters and bus stop ads around London that changed the all white characters of shows and movies like Harry Potter and The Inbetweeners, to black. His campaign has been featured all over the Internet and was also highlighted by I-D Online along with Shaz.
Anna Veglio-White was there too. She founded the pro-choice organisation Sister Supporter with a group of local Ealing residents in 2015 in response to the two-decade long vigil of intimidation held outside their local abortion clinic. The members of Sister Supporter are united in their belief that people should be able to access legal healthcare, free from interference and intimidation.
They petitioned Ealing Council to put an end to the vigils outside the clinic, and in April this year Ealing enacted the UK's first ever 'buffer zone', now we're working on the rest of the Country.
We ended with spoken word artist and social activist, Reece Lyons, who made a major impression when she showed up unapologetically owning her super long legs for days and mini black crop top. She is a proud transgender woman who writes and performs about gender, intersectionality, feminism and other LGBT issues. She was a Roundhouse 2018 Poetry Slam Finalist and is an invited member of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective 2018. The poem she performed titled “I am a Woman and I have a Penis” has been watched and shared by over 2.5 million people online.
You can see more drawings on Facebook.
Don’t you feel inspired? That’s how we all felt that night. We left feeling like the world around us can be changed, it can progress and we can be apart of that. All of the models are active on social media and the best way to be part of the change is to follow them and people like them to find more ways to get involved. If your wondering how you missed knowing about this spectacular event at the V&A, it’s because you’re not signed up to our newsletter, so get on that!
When you’re in, you’ll also see that all this drawing activity has sparked up an interested in our drawing competition that we’re running with the London Drawing Group. So if you don’t want to continue to miss out on anymore super cool opportunities for artists, head over to the application page and enter to win an exhibition and a whole bunch o’ art prizes.
I told you there were cats.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren was born in London, but grew up in Canada where she received her degrees with distinction in Fine Arts and Education. Now she's back, she continues her work in creative arts by making art and teaching it, while developing opportunities for early career artists as the founder of the online platform Dark Yellow Dot.