Young Londoners affected by homelessness put on photography show at the British Library

Creative writing on display in 'Writing London'

Accompanying the British Library’s current exhibition, Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands, the Library has launched a youth programme exploring London through the eyes of young people living in supported accommodation learning centres, known as Foyers. Writing London, a display of photography and creative writing opens tomorrow in the Library’s public areas and will run in parallel with the major literature exhibition, until 25 September 2012.

Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands explores treasures from the last 1000 years of English literature that have been shaped by the country’s unique spaces and places. From idyllic rural landscapes to gritty cities, the exhibition showcases a literary map of the British Isles and highlights how writers, from William Shakespeare and Walter Scott to John Lennon and J K Rowling, have recorded the changing spaces of the British Isles.

Working alongside London poet Charlie Dark and photographer Sara Haq, eight young participants have produced new photography and creative writing linked to the key themes of Writing Britain. The group also met with Library staff responsible for producing an exhibition, learning about the processes involved from the design to the final build.

The launch of this display marks the beginning of a national project, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which will extend to libraries around the country, including Newcastle City Library, Leeds Central Library, Norwich & Norfolk Millennium Library and Bristol Central Library. It aims to engage young people aged 16 – 24 outside of formal education in library collections while enabling participants to bring fresh perspectives and interpretations to those collections.

Roger Walshe, Head of Public Engagement and Learning at the British Library, says:

“It has been fascinating to see the ideas, experiences and original perspectives that the young people involved in this project have brought to the British Library and its collections. It has also been very rewarding for us to help them develop their interests in arts and culture – an interest which we hope will stay with them personally and professionally as they move forward. We are now very excited to take this project further and develop similar displays across the country in response to the Writing Britain exhibition.”

The British Library is also offering a range of learning activities to accompany Writing Britain, including workshops for Secondary and Further Education students, lectures aimed at GCSE and A Level students, Continuing Professional Development conferences for teachers and two filmmaking projects with local Secondary students. British Library Learning is also one of the partners of Pop Up: Festival of Stories which is currently taking place. www.pop-up.org.uk

Writing Britain is part of the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration from 21 June and running until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK.

Notes to Editors:

We are grateful to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for its generous support of the youth engagement programme accompanying the exhibition.

Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands is presented in partnership with Atkins - the official engineering design services provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Atkins led the transformation of 246 hectares of heavily contaminated land into an Olympic Park on which the venues and facilities for the Olympic and Paralympic Games could be built along with the revitalisation of its rivers, canals and natural habitats. For further information, please visit http://www.atkinsglobal.com/twenty-twelve

The exhibition and associated public events and learning programme is kindly supported by The John S Cohen Foundation and The Basil Samuel Charitable Trust

Booking information

To book tickets for Writing Britain visit www.bl.uk/writingbritain, call 01937 546546 (Mon - Fri, 09.00 - 17.00) or buy tickets in person at the British Library.

Exhibition opening hours

Monday 09.30 – 18.00, Tuesday 09.30 – 20.00, Wednesday – Friday 09.30 – 18.00, Saturday 09.30 – 17.00, Sunday and English public holidays 11.00 – 17.00

All galleries are accessible by wheelchair. Information can be requested from Visitor Services staff on: T +44 (0)20 7412 7332.


To see the full range of Writing Britain events please visit http://www.bl.uk/whatson/index.html

To book tickets for Writing Britain events please visit http://boxoffice.bl.uk, call 01937 546546 (Mon - Fri, 09.00 - 17.00) or buy tickets in person at the British Library.

Learning programme

The British Library offers a range of learning activities to accompany the exhibition, including free workshops and lectures for Secondary and Further Education students that will support the English Literature and Language curriculum, Continuing Professional Development conferences for teachers, and projects with local students.

www.bl.uk/workshops / learning@bl.uk / 020 7412 7797

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is one of the larger independent grant-making foundations in the UK.

It makes grants to organisations which aim to maximise opportunities for individuals to experience a full quality of life, both now and in the future. In particular it is concerned with children and young people, and others who are disadvantaged.

It prefers to support work which others may find hard to fund, perhaps because it breaks new ground or is too risky.

It also takes initiatives where new thinking is required or where it believes there are important unexplored opportunities. www.phf.org.uk

The Foyer Federation

· The Foyer Federation is a not-for-profit organisation that helps to transform the circumstances and open the talents of young people who have faced barriers in their lives. Since 1992, we have worked with young people to create new approaches developing the skills and resources they need to thrive.

· Our ground breaking campaigns and initiatives are led through a network of 140 accredited learning and accommodation centres known as ‘Foyers’. These Foyers provide up to 10,000 16-25 year olds per year with mutually agreed, tailor-made programmes which give the young people access to housing, learning, personal development, training and employment opportunities.

· Working through our network and by forging new partnerships, the Foyer Federation will continue to provide high quality leadership in the field of youth development. We will create, pilot and test a portfolio of innovative, specialist services, activities and campaigns with and for young people. By placing young people at the heart of all we do, we will strive to achieve our vision for all young people to have a chance to realise their potential, build a thriving, independent and sustainable adulthood, and become a valuable asset to society. Further information about the Foyer Federation is available at www.foyer.net or by calling 020 7430 2212.

About the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.

The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummers Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.The London 2012 Festival will celebrate the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.

For more details on the programme and to sign up for information visit www.london2012.com/festival

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

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