FAD catches up with Gemma, 19, one of the FAD Leadership Academy members, to talk about a recent arts project she created and managed with school children in Hackney.
Gemma was a runner-up in the 2010 FAD Junior Awards at London Fashion Week. Last year she moved from Manchester to study Fashion Design & Marketing at the London College of Fashion. Over the past few months Gemma has become a key member of the FAD youth team and has really developed her leadership capabilities in the process.
What was your project all about Gemma?
“My project took place at the City of London Academy in Hackney. The students from Year 9 brought in images of things in their lives and cultures that they enjoyed. Their task was to create a collage about themselves which we would print onto fabric and embellish. All the kids seemed to think really hard about the layout of their designs, and what to use to make their collages look the best they could.”
Did you face any challenges during the project?
“Something really difficult was trying to motivate the pupils when they felt something had gone wrong. If they were on the sewing machine and did a wonky line some would get really upset about it. Even if you tried to tell them it was fine they wouldn’t believe you.”
What did you enjoy the most?
“As cheesy as it sounds, seeing their faces when they had put their final work in a frame was great. They all seemed really proud of what they had done and also virtually all the class wanted to take their work home so it felt like they had enjoyed the project.”
Did anything you learnt from the FAD Masterclasses help in planning the project?
“I think the first masterclass on Personality Profiling helped a lot. All the kids in the class were very different and you had to be able to identify with them and keep each pupil happy.”
What other kind of projects would you like to run in the future with the leadership academy?
“Even though it is very tiring, I would really like to run more projects with young teenagers again. Normally at schools you get told what to do, but with FAD projects we allow them to make it personal to them, which can often make things more enjoyable.”
The Leadership Academy is also about bridging different communities. Do you think your project achieved this?
“Yes, I thought my project helped bridge communities together. A lot of the kids in my class have family in different countries so had incorporated this into the collages. Everyone was asking friendly questions to each other about their cultures and what certain pictures meant to them. It was great to hear the answers but also for me, not being from London originally, I learnt a lot about how young people from other cultures think about things.”