We Make London was aimed at 15–25-year olds in our three local boroughs—Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham. We sought to connect scientific skills with creative exploration to encourage the young people to see science as something for them.
This participation project used themes from Science City 1550–1800: The Linbury Gallery and brought together artists and young people to develop creative responses to our city, London.
At the Science Museum we are always considering ways in which we can work with people from our local communities and the opening of Science City was a perfect opportunity. We Make London used relevant links from the gallery such as place and making as a foundation for co-creation with the young people.
"We have been able to understand and acknowledge what we truly enjoy as individuals, take an active role in our community and build a wider network of partners within the borough."
- Participant in the WML project
Over the course of 15 months we worked with over 60 young people across all three boroughs. We Make London has been a great way to establish new partnerships in the local communities we serve.
Although this project was overseen by the Learning Partnerships team, it has incorporated and benefited from the specialist knowledge of curatorial, interpretation, the Academy and cultural events.
Community Youth Action: handmade globes and film
In September 2018 we revisited an already established relationship with Epic CIC. On this occasion we collaborated with their Community Youth Action to create unique handmade globes and a film. Prior to this project the group had been working with RBKC council on a project focused on their local area so the theme of place felt most relevant.
We held fortnightly workshops where we carried out arts, crafts and mapping exercises with reference to objects from the gallery. Through the different activities, the young people began developing ideas of what they wanted to incorporate into their own globes which represents their interpretation of place.
Midway through the project we invited the group to come to the museum to see the range of globes in our collection. The globes ranged in size, materials and meaning, making them consider the purpose of their globes.
We also collaborated with artist Janetka Platun and her art piece Globe, to challenge the young people’s perception of place and how they viewed their area. Globe is a large copper sphere with four portholes that contain cameras to record journeys and conversations with members of the public. The group selected locations in North Kensington which held memories for themselves or the area. Some places they decided to roll were Ladbroke Grove Sainsburys, Meanwhile Garden Skatepark, Portobello Road and Grenfell.
All the footage collected was edited and compiled into a heart-warming 10-minute film called Concrete Flowers. The film was premiered at Exhibition Road Festival in June 2019.
Some topics raised in their final globes were diversity, community, global warming and remembrance. One of the three globes went on to win an award at Creative Waves, a local competition which resulted in the globe being displayed at the Saatchi gallery over summer in 2019.
Lyric Hammersmith: performance
Next, we partnered with the Lyric Hammersmith. We were interested in the thought of a show that encaptured the stories, lives and discoveries touched upon in the Science City gallery.
Early on in 2019 we met with the Director of Young People and Producer of Emerging Talent at the Lyric to talk through the gallery structure and dominant themes. Not long after, we began an intensive research and development phase with the support of the curatorial and interpretation team to gain full insight and understanding of the time period this gallery focuses on.
Lyric found particular interest in section two of the gallery which incorporates the Royal Society, so we arranged a visit to see some of their collection and delve deeper into the hidden stories of the Royal Society and the first members when it was established. The Lyric commissioned poet Sean Mahoney to condense the 300 years of history into a 45-minute piece titled Liar. Heretic and Thief.
Unlike CYA this group of young people were formed solely for We Make London, so Lyric ran auditions and in just 10 days of co-creating elements and rehearsals the final piece was ready.
The young people performed it over three days at the Lyric and it received positive reviews from those who attended. In September 2019 we welcomed the group to the Science City private launch event where they performed a section of the final piece in the gallery amongst the objects, characters and stories that had inspired the play.
Caxton Youth Organisation : Jesmonite plant pots and Christmas ornaments
Caxton Youth Organisation was our final partner on this project. Caxton was established in 1948 and works with young people with disabilities based in Westminster.
In May 2019 we met with the head of programmes, Rose, to discuss the possibilities for the partnering on We Make London. She expressed the young people’s interest in making and wanted this project to help build on team working and communication skills amongst the group. With this in mind, we felt the group would enjoy trying a range of craft techniques and then selecting which they enjoyed most.
After building this framework we had an artist callout where we commissioned Susie Foster as lead artist for this group. Susie planned and delivered a series of taster workshops over the summer where the young people had the chance to sample multiple art techniques. Some of the crafts activities included embossing, screen printing, designing shrinking plastic but the group decided to pursue jesmonite.
Not long after Science City 1550-1800: The Linbury Gallery had opened we arranged an after hours visit for the young people and staff to come and explore the gallery. Through the use of storytelling and interactives we focused on some key objects and interpretation were available to answer any questions the group had about the gallery.
Throughout November the group casted and designed plant pots, candle holders and Christmas snowflake ornaments which were sold at Kensington Town Hall by the young people in the lead up to Christmas.
Raw Ground Arts: zine
To bring together the amazing work produced by all the young people over the course of the project we commissioned Raw Ground Arts to create a zine. The aim of the zine is to act as a channel to let the young people’s voices shine through and it felt like a perfect format to communicate and connect all strands of the project in a playful and creative way.
Stuart and Tahira delivered one to two sessions with each group where they reflected on elements of the project and created artwork that now features in the zine. During the gallery’s time period the flurry of ideas can be seen in the abundance of paper and the growth of small printers and publishers that cropped up all around London.
Through our We Make London zine we hope to evoke a similar feeling, of paper bursting with ideas, discussion and exchange.
We would like to thank all participants and staff from our We Make London Partner Organisations:
- Community Youth Action
- Lyric Hammersmith
- Caxton Youth Organisation
- Janetka Platun
- Sean Mahoney
- Susie Foster
Raw Ground Arts
The Linbury Trust
The National Lottery Heritage Fund