Social media, self-expression and self-identity present growing problems for young people. Trying to establish a true identity, whilst finding themselves within a 'selfie' culture of carefully curated Facebook and Instagram lives, has never been harder.
The exhibition and accompanying book are the culmination of a three-year stud. Working with groups of young people, photography and poetry were used to explore their identity and uncover who they are rather than just what they look like. Our aim was to inspire people to connect on a deeper level through asking a series of questions face to face and to create thoughtful poetry and photography based on what they had learnt. The project appeals to audiences across the entire spectrum of age, gender, race, nationality, sexuality and faith.
One challenge was coming up with a way to showcase the poetry and photography in a meaningful format. A special lenticular printing technology enables each portrait to quietly transition into the poetry that inspired the image. The exhibition showcases 30 A0 studies from the PEEL project. We chose 9 versions to be scaled down to A5 and presented in sets of three as a postcard pack. Limited to only 1500 copies, cloth bound, foil blocked and printed on high quality craft paper, the PEEL book features 30 plates of colour images taken by ‘PEEL’ students. The book comes shrink-wrapped together with one of nine A5 lenticular prints. Each photograph folds out from beneath its paired poem, so the reader engages with the poetry before revealing the portrait. The latter section of the book features helpful information for youth group leaders and teachers considering running a ‘PEEL’ workshop of their own. The Book also presents some eye-opening statistics based on the effects of technology on young people in modern society. The PEEL website allows church groups, youth leaders and educational institutions to download workshop material and explore the project within their community.
The exhibition launched at The Hospital Club in London and also featured in The Cheltenham Literature Festival. Honouring the three years of hard work that went into it, the limited edition book is an indispensable memento to be cherished. Its intrinsic value runs counter to the superficial and damaging effects of the selfie culture in today’s social media obsessed world. The programme is being rolled out to educational organisations and youth leaders across the UK.