Saturday, 5 February 2011

Project my life


I find some days I have three totally different subjects to photograph, to document our lives. But I usually go with the one that is more of a one off.











However, Saturdays image is a bit of a regular occurrence.

Both men sat glued to the TV watching football. The bottom corner one is me and my friend Linda enjoying lunch at my favourite restaurant in London.


I added two blown up images from our sunset shoot on Tuesday. With a few embellishments.


The second half of the week, I managed to capture a shot of my son and his friend on their way to see Usher at the O2. I am taking part in Willette’s Joy of Love class at the moment and one of the prompts was to capture someone you love doing what they do. Well, it had to be Teddy running amok with his favourite toy, an empty water bottle.


For Friday, I had packed up all my make-up, researched lots of products to recommend. I’d had a sleepness night as it was like a hurricane blowing outside. It was still full force as I battled against the winds, down the motorway. I arrived at a centre to talk to a group of teenagers, either pregnant or new mothers. I didn’t know what to expect. The centre weren’t sure how many girls would turn up. What I didn’t know was that none of the girls had been before. They had bought me in to try and tempt more girls to turn up !!

All I can say is that the girls that turned up were stereotypical of the types you read about in papers and see in documentaries. It was extremely hard to keep their attention and you could see they had no real desire to be there. They would sit and wait, listening to me blabbing on and then disappear as soon as they’d seen the midwife. Not one of them brought their make-up bags with them as asked. They were wearing the matt, mask like make-up and fake eyelashes that teenagers seem to think makes them look pretty. Always in at least two shades darker than their own skin. Why I asked them, were they covering up their youthful glow, that all other products try to give you back ? Answer a shrug.

It bought back all my memories of my time working in a Junior school  with children who were “at risk” in their chaotic lives. I resigned nearly ten years ago because it didn’t seem to matter how much I tried to help the children, nothing changed. All that changed was me. I started to worry 24/7 about them, and forgot to enjoy my own life, and my life with my family. I started to feel guilty for everything we had. But it dawned on me one day, that you can’t help these people, and I’m afraid that's how I felt after the session on Friday. The centre had put on a full buffet for them, they didn’t touch a thing. They didn’t interact at all with each other.I had to do all the talking and coaxing.

I gave up talking to them about makeup, and just talked to them about my experiences with my children. I did keep asking them if they have photos of their children. Only one of them had had some printed. But of course they all had the latest mobile phones, full of pictures they put on Facebook. I continually pointed out that these images would one day be lost to their children. I told them we need to learn about our pasts and photographs is an important way of doing this. One had an amazing picture she was so proud of. It was of the moment her baby was born, laying on her chest, vernix and all. I reminded her to get it printed ,that she wouldn’t have that phone forever and the image would be lost to her and her daughter. I tried showing them some scrapbooks and I explained about Project Life and how much their babies would love to have a record of their first months.

But it will be interesting to see if it all fell on deaf ears. I was telling them about an old boyfriend I had, who didn’t have a single photo of himself until he was in his teens. I could tell by their reactions that this was nothing surprising to them. In their lives this is normality.

I felt just like I used to, that I live in a parallel Universe. I have different values, expectations and morals.  People always used to look down on girls from where I grew up. They always said “ you can take the girl out of Stevenage, but you can’t take the Stevenage out of the girl.”

Well, I feel I escaped. I never did belong, really. I was always different. But I can see that I could so easily have become one of these girls because we lived on a council estate, we went to one of the worst schools in Stevenage  and my boyfriend lived on one of the most impoverished council estates that Stevenage had. People I went to school with either had babies, lived on benefits or went to prison. Or did all three!!

But through hard work my parents moved us to a detached house on a private estate and we mixed with different people. And I suppose we changed. We were then considered posh at our school. Its funny because I am considered far from posh away from that town. It was after I moved away to another town that I realised what it was really like in the world outside.

I found this on the internet. It was asking what is the most crap town to live in-

Without doubt it has to be Stevenage. With its soul destroying concrete structures, highly dangerous local population and a teenage pregnancy rate second to none. You know you have hit rock bottom when you end up in this squalid hell hole

and yet another

A town in the midst of Hertfordshire, populated by 14 year olds and their children


Well my talk wasn’t in Stevenage, and sadly one of the girls was like looking at a mirror image of myself. She arrived with her unusual named child, Cath Kidston changing bag, trendy clothes, full make up and was the dominant one of the group. Well ,we may get to met again. The lady who runs the centre thought it went amazingly well.?????… and she has asked me to go back next week to photograph the babies and teach the girls to scrapbook…………… How can I say no…….I know for my sanity I should say no though…..

But luckily Anna Bowkis had a clear-out of her scrap supplies and is going to donate some bits for the centre for me to work with.

Wish me luck I need it…….

On a happier note I couldn’t resist these cushions this week. How amazing are these.



I just need some new sofas to go with them……


Scrappi Sandi said...

Well, that visit certainly touched you deeply...if you do keep at it, don't let it get under your skin. But if you make a difference to just one or two it'll be an achievement! If you can use some stash, I'm sure I can pull some stuff together...just let me know!

Project Life is looking great & those cushions are gorgeous...Anthropology?

Anonymous said...

You may have had an influence on one of the girls - you may never know. Remember peer group pressure is everything at their age even if they have babies!.
Maybe split them up into smaller groups, four or five , give them a task to do (make a card?) and just keep cheerful. You may want to allow them to talk to you on their own, I wouldn't mind betting that they will love to talk! No one probably ever asks them what they would like to do / achieve or whatever. Its valuable work and you may change/alter one girl - thats good odds I reckon!! Good luck and maybe ask them open ended questions eg "How would you like your baby to remember you?"

domestic goddess said...

i feel the same with the kids I work with at school, in the middle of the roughest estate in Huntingdon!
Anyways let me know when you want to pick the box up, have managed to put some stamps together as well for you
Anna x


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