Common Ground Photography Project, Dunoon, Argyll
What happens when a group of young people (aged 16 - 18) and a group of over 60s get together to discuss their home town? They decided to explore with digital cameras what they wanted to celebrate and what they would like to change. Supported by a project co-ordinator and an artist engaged by Dunoon Community Development Group, the group met weekly for a period of four months to discuss issues, gather images and develop their computer skills. An interactive map featuring some of the group's photographs was used to gather opinion from the wider community at a Local Area Community Planning event. Using digital photography to express their ideas the group produced a series of images inspired by traditional seaside postcards. The images were exhibited around the town on large-scale banners and sets of postcards were produced for use in community consultation and to promote further discussion.
Common Ground is one of four pilot projects funded by Youthlink Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and linked to the Preventing Offending Framework.
The use of digital photography allowed both generations to look at their town anew and consider themes of ‘celebration' and ‘change' in a visual way. A great deal of discussion was prompted by the images of each group member, ensuring that every individual contributed. All but one of the over-60s involved in the project were volunteers with Dunoon's Castle House Museum and the project used the museum as a base for group meetings. Having access to this resource enhanced discussions and provided inspiration for the final images.
The project attempted to involve young people who had left school, but they were often not available and not easily contacted. The young people who were able to commit to the work were in 5th and 6th year at Dunoon Grammar School. It may have been easier to recruit outside school by linking directly to existing projects with unemployed young people.
The art work produced by the group was of a very high standard and the views expressed through the work range from celebrations of culture, landscape and heritage to the challenges of decay, empty shops and the problems associated with alcohol. There has been a strong reaction to the work in the town and the local newspaper has picked up on its potential to promote debate and encourage change. Also as a direct result of involvement four of the over-60s have enrolled in adult education courses to continue developing their computer skills.
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