Changing You(th). Teenagers in the 1950’s and today was a Soft Touch project that brought young and older people together.
The project compared how teenagers feel about themselves and the world around them in the 1950’s to teenage experiences today. The resulting free multi-media exhibition was open at 50 New Walk for the whole of October in 2015!
Everybody who contributed their experiences to one of the themes – fashion, holiday, transport, dating, expectations for the future, and education – has now a connection to Leicester, but many of the 1950’s teenagers did not necessarily live in Leicester or even the UK in the 1950’s.
The project has its own website which launched on June the 22nd 2015. One of the things you can explore on the website is the blog on how the exhibition has been made. Many of the participants have contributed to this blog over the last two years. You can also see different photos of teenagers now or in the 1950s with a blurb explaining an experience of that time relating to that photo. We hope many in Leicester who were teenagers in the 1950’s or are a teenager now want to add to this space. So we would like to invite you to contribute a photo and your story of yourself (just contact firstname.lastname@example.org). On the website you can also find a section on how the new building of Soft Touch has changed over the last two years, and how 50 New Walk has changed over time. .
The project started in 2013. Many people have been involved in all kinds of ways – as curator, as contributor, as interviewee or as producer. A core group of different people became the curators. They developed and researched the themes, interviewed people and relied on their own experiences. They thought of interesting ways to tell the stories in the exhibition, made the interactives and artworks, sourced the objects and props, wrote the text and designed the entire exhibition. They made it into a hands-on project which they eventually ran themselves. They also developed the website.
They installed the exhibition, launched the exhibition and ran the events. Apart of the core group, many people, young and old, contributed with sharing their stories, contributing for blogs as part of the website, lending objects, being interviewed and much more. The age range of people who shared their memories and experiences ranged from twelve to thirty, and from seventy to people in their mid eighties. The exhibition looks at real people who lived teenage life in the 1950’s and at present, and many felt that this is important as it helps to avoid stereotyping and really explore what has stayed the same, and what is different. But also how teenagers at any time have very different experiences, even in the same year or place.
With generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project and exhibition ran throughout the whole of October with participants working effortlessly to get the website finished, to collect items for the exhibition and interviewing people to get clear contrasts of then and now. The project ended in November ’15, but the website will be a legacy and a continuation.