In the early planning stages of our recent exhibition Identi-Tee, context and content were being eroded by time, space, and budget – that ever important element of good exhibition planning. Our desire to explain the process of screen printing in a meaningful way came in at the end of the ever-tightening timelines. That was until Urbanlife launched and, our Urbanlife and Identi-Tee worlds collided.
The Youthline Advisory Group were the first intake of Urbanlife participants to be introduced to the museum’s pictorial collections, to spark their thoughts about employment, both historically and in their own current experience. This was followed a week later by a hands on workshop at Artstation, where the youth participants set about turning their concepts and ideas into actual T-shirt statements about youth employment. The Urbanlife participants all a lot ‘cooler’ and younger then moi were tutored and mentored by Siliga David Setoga of Popohardwear, who’s well-known T-shirts featured in our Identi-Tee exhibition. Siliga is deeply passionate about his art practice and equally generous and graceful when tutoring our Urbanlife participants in the finer points of t-shirt printing.
“There are huge barriers that come up for youth looking for employment. There’s a huge issue around confidence, not being brave enough to give things a go, second-guessing and self-doubt, being susceptible to peer pressure. The distrust in institutions and wider society, because they’ve been counted out at the beginning, they are carrying the chip of being untrustworthy, slackers, so it’s just those bags that weigh them down before they even get started.” Siliga Setoga.
“Experiences, qualifications, references, chances, transport, support, pressure, distractions, skills, confidence….”
“I’m not them, see me as me and guide me away from poverty with a chance”
The following images provide a sneak peek into the Urbanlife project and go a little way in explaining how to set your own screens ‘Siliga style’. Check out this sequence to see how ideas become T-shirts.
Hopes T-shirt: ‘Will work for peanuts’
Victors T-shirt: ‘How AM I MEANt TO get experience if YOU won’t give me the chance?’
Uzair’s T-shirt: ‘The poor dream rich’
Liam’s T-shirt: ‘Aspire to do better… Nek Minit!’
“The Youth Advisory Group for Youthline is for 16-19 year olds, and was set up so that we can ask young people how they want us to work with them, targeting young people who were still at school, or sitting at home, or at university. In regards to the T-shirts they have really enjoyed being able to be creative and to make something of themselves. When we sat in the museum and looked at all the different books and newspaper articles, it was really interesting to see the young people years ago were doing the same thing as they are doing now, slightly different scale but very similar stuff.” Melodie McDonald-senior youth worker, Youthline.
Melodie’s T-shirt: ‘Old people retire so young people can start their journeys’