The Arts

World Stories : Young Voices

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people. The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummer’s Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.The London 2012 Festival will celebrate the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Bolxuaam’ Big-Mouth Fish Sculpture (c.1993) by Michael Homerang

World Stories: Young Voices at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, is part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme, Stories of the World. This project has enabled young people of all backgrounds, aged between 14 and 25 across the UK, to become ‘curators’ of museum and archive collections with objects from around the globe. At Brighton World Stories: Young Voices is a new, permanent gallery featuring Brighton’s world art collection, redisplayed with the involvement of young people and members of source communities. Young people have been working with curators, film makers, artists and writers to explore and reinterpret the collection. The new gallery includes objects not previously on public display, together with major new purchases and exciting new commissions, including films and contemporary artworks. There is also a programme of special events.

Brighton Museum holds one of only six ethnographic collections in England designated as internationally important. It comprises over 13,000 objects from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas, ranging from items that are several thousand years old to contemporary artefacts. The new gallery uses this collection to consider how culture, in all its forms, brings people together. Objects and personal stories explore how culture can help to connect yesterday to today. It promotes cultural understanding and caters for different learning styles through contemporary displays, new forms of interpretation and hands-on activities. Six different aspects of the collection is revealed:

  • Historic ivories and related material reflect hunting and art amongst Arctic peoples
  • Iranian artworks, historic and contemporary, which reveal the power of the written word
  • Ancient burial items from Peru: material evidence of life lived 500 years ago in the High Andes
  • Football in Mali and Brighton: a shared passion and vehicle for aspiration
  • Ceremonial sculpture and masks from New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, to link the living and the dead.
  • Dress from north eastern Burma, worn at an annual festival which celebrates the unity of the Kachin people in difficult political times.

Over 240 young people, from across Brighton & Hove, worked with museum staff on the content, themes and development of the gallery. The young people came from local community projects including Brighton & Hove Albion in the Community, Art In Mind, Patcham High School, Whitehawk Art Group (The Youth Arts Project, Brighton & Hove City Council), R.A.S.P (Refugee and Asylum Seekers Project) and the museum’s own youth advisory group, the Museum Collective. The project evaluation has shown that participants learnt a range of skills through their involvement, from dating museum artefacts and film-making to teamwork and communication skills. Over a quarter of respondents had never visited the museum before becoming involved; and 95% said they will go back to the museum again, or are already doing so. All felt that they had made a positive contribution to the project.

Dream indicatorUntitled from the Dream Indicator series (2011-12), is by Nader Davoodi, an award-winning artist, photographer, photojournalist and publisher who captures the zeitgeist of contemporary Iran. Women are the main focus of his work, and the print purchased by Brighton Museum has never been exhibited in Iran, where an image of a woman without head scarf cannot be seen on public display. Islamic tradition allows women to show only their faces in public. This portrait focuses on the face; the rest of the picture is hidden under page of an old text from a torn book, which gives the work a sense of religion and tradition.

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