A new exhibition at the Stephen Lawrence Centre continues its tradition of inspiring and motivating young people.
An exhibition of pop-inspired self portraits by students from Abbey Manor College, Lewisham is being held at the Stephen Lawrence Centre from 28 June until 11 August 2011. Inspired by pop artists such as Andy Warhol, students explored their own identity through self portraiture. This is the result of twelve months’ work from the Art & Design and Media Studies students. According to the centre’s website, Danika Patterson, a year 11 student said: ‘To have a piece of work that you have created and also so personal to me, put out there for the public to see, makes the whole creative process really fulfilling. I hope that the work we have produced will help create a positive image of young people in Lewisham.’
The Stephen Lawrence Centre is a place for community learning and social research which focuses on inspiring and motivating young people to ‘achieve a meaningful stake in society’. This £10m architecture centre was built as a memorial to Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993. Despite racist vandalism, just a week after it opened in 2008, the centre continues to provide support and stimulation for all communities.
Responding to research that indicated less than four per cent of architects are from BME backgrounds, one of the centre’s first activities was to provide bursaries to students who wished to pursue a career in architecture or a related field at degree level. The centre also supports students abroad, for example in Jamaica and South Africa, who are unable to finish their undergraduate studies due to financial constraints.
The Stephen Lawrence Centre engages intensely with young people through a number of unique and thought provoking programmes. ‘Youth Ambassadors’, one of many activities provided by the centre, involves technological knowledge and access to resources that empowers young people. Another programme entitled, ‘Youth, Creativity and Urban Design’ tackles educational underachievement of young BME people by providing opportunities for apprenticeships, career advice days and music workshops in order to advance their skills in science, technology and maths. In celebration of the life of Stephen Lawrence, the centre also organised ‘Voices that SHAKE!’ to engage its participants in various activities including poetry writing, performance, film making, DJ artwork and mentoring of campaigning and events production.
The centre carries out invaluable work as it tackles social, political and racial inequalities by accommodating young people’s desire to study and to be more involved in their communities.