Young people explore what it means to be Northern today in new exhibition

©McCoy Wynne


Our North: An exhibition by Sefton Youth Voice and young people from Runcorn’s Power in Partnership programme

What does it mean to be Northern for young people today? A new exhibition launching at Open Eye Gallery presents new collaborative work created by young people, exploring their generation’s understanding of ‘The North’.

Our North is a project built around collaborative photography, fashion and heritage. Inspired by Open Eye Gallery’s 2017 exhibition North: Identity, Photography, Fashion, young people have explored why the North of England sits so prominently on the global map for fashion, music and visual culture.

Our North, made possible by national lottery players through newly released funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, is giving young people the opportunity to work alongside artists, producers, curators and researchers, looking at the visual and social history of their culture.

Participants have delved into Open Eye Gallery’s photographic archives, interviewed cultural and fashion sector professionals, met and interviewed local older residents about their fashion memories and undertaken several photo walks and self-directed fashion shoots with photographer Stephanie Wynne.

Both groups are also working to create a book with local designer Thom Isom, due to launch in late May. The book will include the young people’s original photographs, and is being collaboratively designed and layed out. There will be a series of book launches at local libraries across the region.

The exhibition runs for three days at Open Eye Gallery, from the 28th to the 30th of March and acts as a taster to their forthcoming final public launch this Summer. There will be a celebratory opening event from 3-7pm on 28th March where the young artists will talk people through their projects.

Andy Yates, Our North project coordinator, said:

“The project all began with a question from curator Adam Murray: “What does the North mean to you?” It’s been a pleasure to see the groups from Sefton and Runcorn come up with so many diverse answers to that question.

“The young group from Sefton decided on a studio setting, constructing images looking at the idea of who they are and the different influences on their identity. The Runcorn young people decided on a location based shoot, using the towns rich heritage as a backdrop to display their own style.

“Collectively, they explore themes such as conforming to a stereotype, politics and gender.”

Liz Wewiora, Creative Producer at Open Eye Gallery, said:

“These young people are our next wave of Northern creative talent. They’ll be bringing their own distinct generational perspective, and creating new work that celebrates what makes the North such a global cultural powerhouse”.

The project has been supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of their Young Roots programme and in partnership with Sefton Council and the youth staff team and the youth team from Power in Partnerships, Runcorn.

The project builds upon Open Eye Gallery’s Culture Shifts programme of collaboratively producing work with various communities across Liverpool City Region.