The “Walk a Mile in my Shoes” exhibition in Brighton has showcased artworks from adopted and looked-after children in the area. The exhibition is designed to increase understanding of the emotional and mental burdens children in care carry with them but can’t express. Judy Cooper spoke to the organiser and one of the young artists in the show.
Louise Bomber, organiser and author of ‘Inside I’m Hurting’:
“Art is one of the most powerful ways to communicate. I teach this in my day job which is trying to help social workers and teachers understand young people who have experienced trauma and loss through abuse and neglect, repeated placement moves or separation from birth families.
People almost seem to expect danger when they communicate with these young people. They have good intentions but don’t understand that these children are looking at the world from the perspective of a very insecure attachment range which makes it difficult for them to make sense of relationships. That’s something most of us cannot understand and that’s why I thought this art exhibiton might help.
On this project the children came together every week for four months to creat the art. There was a lot of laughing and a lot of crying. Many were surprised to find other children who were experiencing the same feelings, which helped with their isolation.
These children usually find it very difficult to talk about what has happened to them but if you give them a camera or some paints then they will soon show you how they feel in a very powerful way. This is something all people coming into contact with these children should try.”
Ana, an adopted 13 year old
“I’ve always liked art and my mum heard about this project and suggested I should do it. It’s been a bit of both doing art and also trying to express my feelings with others who have been through the same thing.
At school you can feel really isolated because although I’ve told some of my friends at school about my past, I’m not sure that they really understand. When we do lessons about family trees or stories about our pasts it gets really hard as well. But on this course I’ve made some really close friends and I hope I’ll be able to stay in contact with them because it’s nice to have friends who understand about that side of my life.
I think I’d like to be a photographer when I’m older. I really like the fact you can express your emotions through taking a picture without using any words.
I’m really nervous about the exhibition because all my friends are coming to see it.”
Walk a Mile in My Shoes will exhibit 13 – 19 February (Half term week) at The Art Space at the London Road Post Office, 94-101 London Road, Brighton. The exhibition will also be featuring at the Mad Hatter Café, 35 Montpelier Road in the Brighton Youth Arts Festival in May 2010