CAP’s “Hit the North Half Term Camp” took place last week. The group was made up of teenagers from New Lodge and other parts of the city who gave up their break from school to participate in the scheduled workshops. Although the group was mixed in background, gender, range of age, ability, etc the focus of the interaction was to use the arts to help participants find expression and a way of working together. This was quite a commitment on the groups’ behalf but they stayed with the process until the end with almost everyone coming along to the celebration on Saturday afternoon. They were a great bunch to work with and the week proved to be a special time for everyone to get to know each other, express their sense of place in their home city and their hopes for the future.
The first couple of days enabled us to find the pulse of the group, which set the pace for the creation of the artwork. They also went on a couple of tours: the first being the Black Taxi tour to the Shankill, peace wall in Couper Street, the Memorial in Bombay Street and on to the Falls Road. Here we were shown one approach to visual story telling and heard a narrative which described Belfast in difficult, darker days which was at least a generation prior to those in the group.
The second tour was of the graffiti street art in the Cathedral Quarter which has been created as part of the Hit the North project over the last few years as part of the wider Culture Night programme. This array of images, themes and techniques were explained to the group and they found them to be inspiring and thought provoking for their idea production of their own artwork.
The group worked with Street Artist, Tim McCarthy over the remaining few days, who demonstrated spray art techniques. Individuals and small groups developed their ideas into designs which they painted on to large 4x8ft boards. These canvases were much bigger than the group were used to and initially, they involved an element of risk to fill the space with paint but confidence grew and the pieces were completed for the showcase event on Saturday. Themes included living collaboratively, issues around sexuality, developing understanding beyond disagreement, creating hope through imagination and empathy were some of the illustrated themes. These young people completed really strong concepts which acknowledged a broken and hurting city but also integrated an aspiring, positive future.