Jack Petchey Foundation youth-led art exhibition opened with artwork from London & Essex


new exhibition organised by the Jack Petchey Foundation is coming to Poplar Union, Tower Hamlets celebrating young people’s creative work during the pandemic. The pieces were submitted to the Foundation’s Forward to the Future competition, which asked young people to explore what the future could look like through any creative medium.

36 creative pieces will be exhibited in Poplar Union arts and community centre and open to the public throughout the month of April, visitors will be able to experience the exhibition from 9am-5:30pm weekdays.

The Forward to the Future Competition was organised by the Jack Petchey Foundation in July 2021 to celebrate the birthday of their founder, Sir Jack Petchey. To celebrate Sir Jack’s 96 years, the Foundation asked young people from across London and Essex to submit any creative piece exploring a positive vision of what life could look like in 96 years’ time, the year 2117.

The competition received a staggering 166 entries of creative pieces spanning art, poetry, video, spoken word, sculpture and more. These entries were then shortlisted and the winners picked by a group of young people. All shortlisted entries are to be showcased at this public exhibition.

Gabriel May, Grants Officer at the Jack Petchey Foundation, said: “It is so important to encourage and celebrate young people’s creativity. The pandemic was a difficult time to stay positive about the future, and we wanted to encourage young people to explore the inspiring future world they wanted to see and build. We are so excited to be working with the wonderful team at Poplar Union to put on this exhibition, created by young people for young people.”

Paolo Fiorentini, Creative Director and Curator at Poplar Union: “The entries to ‘Forward to the Future’ hold an optimistic view and an uplifting spirit in response to these challenging times. Creativity should be an essential element of our well-being, as it enriches and unlocks opportunities. Providing a platform for young people to display their inventiveness is paramount to our organization. It is encouraging that the long months of lockdown did not prevent creativity from being such a vital outlet for recovery and positive vision.”

The competition was won by a group at WAC Arts, a charity based in Belsize Park that works with young people to empower them with the life skills that only the arts can offer, who created the videogame Shadowtopia with the sound, visuals, story and user experience designed by young people. In second place was Maryam Ahmed for her poem 96 Years Later and in third place Mateusz Zygmunt for a visual art piece of the future.

Members of the public wishing to attend the exhibition should visit Poplar Union’s website: https://poplarunion.com/plan-your-visit/

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