Young carers in Sutton reach out to their community with art exhibition

I feel like I’m an involuntary servant,

All my life I just care.

I spend each day asking one lonely question,

How can this ever be fair?

There are two sides to every story,

Now it’s time to tell mine.

I might not get all the glory,

But now it’s my moment to shine.

Lyrics from Two Sides by young carers from Sutton.  

Over the last few months, we have taken our inspired:arts, programme for young carers to Sutton for the first time. The young people who attend Sutton Carers Centre collaborated to explore a range of artforms, before holding an exhibition at their local library.

Work on the project began in June, when the young carers examined the theme of “identity” through photography. After learning about composition and techniques from professional photographer Adele Watts, the young carers set off to explore their local area and capture images of their environment. As well as taking portraits of one another in these settings, they photographed their interactions with other members of their community, including policemen and other young people, building up a collection of colourful photos expressing what it means to be a young carer in Sutton.

They then came together with our professional visual artist Larry Achiampong, to work on a textile-design project. They designed and created personalised shirts and hats, adorned with colourful custom prints that celebrate each young carer’s unique personality.

Finally, the young carers took part in song-writing workshops, during which they opened up and shared their feelings as a group. Their songs explore the emotional impact that caring can have on a young person, as well as the lack of recognition they receive from the general public.

The project culminated in an exhibition at Sutton Civic Library, giving the young carers the opportunity to showcase their work and assert their presence in a community hub.

Gemma, one of the young carers who took part in the project, told us, Create’s workshops help you open up about yourself. It was interesting to learn about everyone and I think it helped build my communication skills and ability to work in a team. You get the chance to come up with really good ideas and you realise that you’re not that different to the others because there are big similarities in your lives”.