As part of the final stage of the Brixton Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) The Brixton Project worked with young people across three Brixton-based schools in a series of workshops. These workshops were designed to enable the students to bring Brixton’s buildings and heritage to life using stories and experiences. As part of the project the participants created podcasts and Virtual Reality films both exploring Brixton’s heritage and architecture. Through sessions with Independent Film Trust, Empathy Museum, Bold Face and Our Hut they created work to inspire a new generation of heritage champions with the stories and skills for collecting and building new heritage content.
Here is what one of our participants Olivia has to say about the whole experience:
I had a great experience working on the Brixton Heritage Initiative because they were specifically working with myself and other young people from the area. This was particularly sparking for me as the voices of us young people are often disregarded and forgotten about, but this enabled me to speak about the built environment and be more socially aware of my surroundings. Working with the THI highlighted how important it is to talk about the connectivity of Brixton because it is a hub for many things. As a young person I felt it was my duty to display something both interesting and educational as we are the future of tomorrow.
The experience was amusing as I was speaking to people from the ‘world of work’ and having them speak to me as an equal whilst having responsibility for my work independently and collectively. This opportunity did not hinder my creativity but enabled me to embrace it slightly more. For example, I created a fictional story board about a cat going back in time to learn about the architecture of the Reliance Arcade. In discussions I was able to speak openly. I was able to address the pros and cons of things such as gentrification and how it affects local people, and I was able to see from old pictures how urbanisation gradually increased making the Brixton we know today.
Like many of the things I did, making the 360 VR film was a very surreal experience because it allowed me to put all my content into a visual media piece where the person in the headset could see everything and feel more a part of the experience. It was like there were people there in real life, and I got to know various techniques that would get people to turn in specific directions. I would say that anyone should do it if they get the chance. When going out to get the visual material we went around Brixton. It was amazing to watch a previous film called ‘Coldharbour’ which was about Brixton and the architecture. We could see someone from the same background, standing at the side of the road, that road was called the front line. I would recommend doing the 360 VR film because it is a fun, hands-on experience that many don’t get to try.
When recording the podcast and adding the interview of someone’s account of Brixton and how they had seen the market change, hearing it from someone of a different generation was interesting because I was able to see the difference in our personal accounts. I would recommend people of all ages to try this because your voice is often how you express yourself and making the podcast you can express yourself to the fullest.
Overall, my experience with the THI was an unforgettable experience and I would especially tell teens and young people to partake because this allows you to take control of what you create and teach people you may not usually teach. As well as this, it is something great you can put on your personal statement which shows you are committed and creative.
All in all, I would like to thank everyone who helped me, thank you for this experience (I’m sure I’ll be back for more).