The Britishness Project
September 2017 - June 2018
Event, Exhibition, Residency, Workshop

The Personal is Political (Freya)

This project engaged young people at The Gilberd School in Colchester, Essex, to investigate issues of identity and Britishness in the context of the recent European Referendum. The collaborative artworks were presented in an exhibition at Firstsite, Colchester.

‘Do you feel like your voice is heard?’ is a series of 8 t-shirt designs, articulating the student’s voices, including: YES to difference, YES to change, NO to isolation / Spend more money on the NHS / We are impressionable. Through workshops we explored personal identities and perceived notions of Britishness, drawing on cultural symbols and histories of British youth cultures, and how they interlinked with developments in art, performance and music. We led writing exercises with manifestos, political slogans and autobiographies, in which the young people expressed their political and personal viewpoints. We extracted and edited and phrases from their writing to go on the t-shirts.

‘The Personal is Political’ is a set of 16 digital photographs. The young people developed unique clothing designs, and used screenprinting, appliqué and other techniques to customise garments. They modelled their clothes in a professional photoshoot with photographer Hydar Dewachi, reflecting and performing their identity to camera.

At the exhibition opening event, the young people presented ‘Dear Mrs May…’ A performance taking on the momentum of a demonstration or political rally, the young people spoke through a megaphone shouting political messages and personal feelings about being a young person in Britain today.

The Personal is Political (Jade)

The Personal is Political (Shemaiah, Eunice, Emerald)                    

Connected to this project was the Symposium at Firstsite: Do you feel like your voice is heard? – read about our contribution in news section of our website here.

Two editions of the t-shirts are available to buy at the Firstsite gallery shop.

More information about the exhibition can be found here.

Photographs by Hydar Dewachi