“The locations have been really different and looking at different themes makes you think about different things and new ways of working quite a lot which is really good…it has got me thinking about…different social themes, it’s given me different ideas.”
“I… [became] more aware of the possibilities for the kind of illustration that we are doing, how that’s used commercially; being able to work in public and be comfortable doing things like drawing on location.”
Topolski Studio’s Chronicle for the twenty-first century reports local issues and events through drawing. By drawing street scenes to community events, the artists record what matters to local people and raise the profile of issues and experiences close to the community that are not always treated as relevant by other forms of media. The Residents are encouraged to be artistically innovative by using the Chronicle as an intervention in current drawing practices, and to use print as a strategy for social and political engagement.
The young people are supported to draw on location in local community settings. In 2013, the Residents dealt with issues such as gentrification in Brixton, Elephant and Castle and the Olympic site, food poverty at a Food Bank in Bermondsey and immigration and asylum by reporting on cases at the Royal Courts of Justice and issues raised in the chamber of the House of Commons. They also covered the fracking protests in Balcombe and Remembrance Day at Trafalgar Square. For the 2014 Programme, the young people covered the Invictus Games at the Olympic Park, the Notting Hill Carnival and World War I Centenary events.
The Residents plan and undertake a personal reportage project, producing a portfolio of work based on location visits that they negotiate access to and present their work to an invited audience upon completion. Previous projects have dealt with the building of cross-rail, The Gypsy Horse Fair at Stow-on-the-Wold, Animal Assisted Therapy, the Hare Krishna Food for Life Programme and homelessness in Oxford.
The external evaluation concluded that ‘the Residents reflected positively on the professional development aspects of the Programme in terms of good role models (the Masterclasses) being provided, enhanced confidence in proposing self-directed work as a means to generate potential work opportunities (including using their written personal project proposals to negotiate access to sites and subject matter) and enhanced presentation skills.’