Work and Progress: STart Exhibition


Work and Progress

As part of funding received from Ambition, young people that attend our STart sessions produced artwork and music for their Work and Progress exhibition at Soft Touch’s New Walk building.

The exhibition was titled “Work and Progress” and featured work from young people who have attended STart over the last two years.

Participants were given a free hand to make whatever kind of work they wanted.

The final pieces submitted to “Work and Progress” reflected of wide variety of interests. There were several self-portraits, both photographic and stencilled. Some work fell into the genre of “fan art”, where young people made their own interpretations of characters from anime, manga and computer games. Other work included original paintings, graffiti stencil pieces and photographic prints. In addition, three-dimensional work was represented by hand-sewn cushions and a full-body fake fur outfit dressed on a mannequin. Evidence of process was provided by work folders that included stencil layers, working sketches and designs.

Some young people do music at the Start sessions and an iPad was installed in the show, playing both live and computer made music pieces. Several STart participants also volunteered their time to invigilate the exhibition. This meant that there was nearly always a young person with direct knowledge of the work available to talk to members of the public who dropped in to see the show.

One of the parents who came to see the exhibition commented: “Hi, finally found the art exhibition last night: “Just want to thank Jim and Soft Touch for all the help, support and confidence you have given my son.  The art group has made a big difference to his week and given him the chance he needed to mix with like-minded young people. The art was of an amazing standard and without Soft Touch these young people would have no platform to express themselves publicly.”

Now the exhibition has finished at New Walk, the work will go out to other venues around the city and be shown for a second time. This exhibition has inspired the participants to begin thinking about making new work to show in the future.

We asked some of the participants how they felt about the exhibition:

Maya said “I submitted two stencil pieces to the exhibition, my favourite part was drawing and designing my piece! I used stencils to create a spray template and spray paint to complete my design.

STart is good because I get to meet new people, as well as do all the artwork.

I felt proud of myself when I saw my final outcome in the exhibition.”

Carl said “The type of artwork I submitted was a self-portrait of me in drag! My favourite part of creating it was the dressing up, and being treated like a pop star!

The first thing I did to create my piece was get my make-up done, then get my outfit on and have lots of photographs taken. Then I chose my favourite picture and went onto Photoshop to add a background and got it printed.

I like STart because I get to socialise with others and have a laugh, whilst learning new things.

When I saw my artwork on display I was excited and a bit shocked to see myself as Cheryl (that’s the name of my drag alter-ego! I am proud of myself.”

ambition sponsor work and progress

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