Youth arts and development charity Small Green Shoots were invited to participate in Ai Weiwei's 'Fly the Flag' initiative, marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. SGS asked us to get involved by running illustration workshops for their young participants and by creating a set of illustrations, in the form of protest boards, to accompany the brilliant spoken word poetry their young participants produced.
Illustration, Photography, Workshops
We’ve worked closely with Small Green Shoots for a number of years and every new foray brings a unique set of challenges. For this project the ‘Shoots wanted to create a mock protest, featuring poetry written by a group of young participants, sharing their views and personal experiences on human rights issues. Each participant would be ‘armed’ with an illustrated protest board that represented their spoken word piece.
We designed a set of workshops in which we worked directly with the participants to help shape each poem into a symbolic image perfect for a placard. It was imperative that the protest boards we produced with the participants had an awareness of their place within the larger activist movement. The current political climate has seen an abundance of marches, sit-ins and protests circulating within the media (both old and new), all of which are rife with creative placards (“this is an Eton mess” we’re looking at you). So we drew inspiration from the history of protest signs – from the suffragettes to Obama’s ‘hope’ campaign – and then personalised each one deeply by working closely with the participants to get to the heart of how they wanted to make their audience feel and react.
The event itself, part of a nation wide initiative led by artist Ai Weiwei in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, was a tour de force of eloquent, articulate and powerful messages. The Shoots proving that the next generation is at once active, passionate and socially engaged. As the majority of contemporary movements catch wind through the circulation of digital media, we ensured that Small Green Shoots had high quality photography to broadcast their messages beyond the event itself. Now, if anyone claims young people are “apathetic nowadays”, or don’t care about human rights we have a veritable smorgasbord of snaps to prove that this couldn’t be further from the truth.