Youngsters having a say on the future

What the 10m banner will look like
What the 10m banner will look like

They may not be old enough to vote, but youngsters from across Wigan are getting ready to voice their hopes and dreams for the future at a show-stopping exhibition of bold public artworks.

The exhibition, entitled What I want more than anything else, and created partnership with Turner Prize nominated contemporary artist, Mark Titchner.

The show officially launches on Saturday, June 10 at Wigan S.T.E.A.M – but one of its most prominent artworks – a giant 10 metre long banner brandishing the powerful words, “I want world peace, universal healthcare, no oppression, no prejudice, no poverty” – will be erected on election day, June 8.

The banner will be installed at one of the town’s busiest thoroughfares, on the exterior pedestrian entrance of Grand Arcade’s car park building.

The heartfelt words have come from St John Rigby College student, Bethan Griffiths, who at 17 will not be voting on election day. The emotive slogan was originally earmarked for display on the front of the Town Hall, but is too big for installation on the building’s intricate architecture.

Titchner, a Turner Prize nominated artist renowned internationally for his text based works, has turned the pupil’s plea for peace into a powerful public artwork. Despite its uncanny timing, the banner has been in the planning for many months, following a series of workshops with young people from Wigan.

The public art project has involved 13-25 year olds from across Wigan, working with the artist to make their thoughts and opinions visible in public spaces.

Powerful messages written in the youngsters’ own handwriting have been transformed into striking artworks that take the form of videos, flags, bookmarks, murals, banners and screen works. In addition to the Grand display, they can also be seen at Wigan Library, Wigan Market Hall, Newbridge Community Learning School, The Old Courts, The Turnpike,

WigLe Dance and Leigh Sports Village. Each reflects young people’s responses to the question ‘What is it that you want more than anything else?’

Responses range from: “I want to always be happy” and “I want in the future a good job, preferably as a paramedic” to “I want an iPhone 7 in jet black.”

Organisers have also launched a Wigan wide text art competition open to anyone in the borough aged 25 or under. The winners’ creations will be exhibited alongside the commissioned works.

The project has been masterminded by Mark Titchner and Networked Narrative, an exciting arts partnership formed between Wigan’s Inspiring healthy lifestyles, and FACT (Foundation for Arts and Creative Technology) in Liverpool.

Mark said: “It’s been a privilege working closely with a diverse group of young people from Wigan. Their responses to the question posed was fascinating – and varied from the deeply personal, to everyday wants and global concerns.

“There seems to be a common misconception that our younger generation is no longer engaged politically or socially – that they basically don’t care. This project shows that if you provide the right outlet for expression, they will open-up, and very willingly. I’ve created a series of artworks designed to prompt discussion, comparison or agreement - with the young people’s disparate and forceful voices at the centre.”

What I want more than anything else will be exhibited at Wigan S.T.E.A.M from June 10 until August 27.

For more information, visit fact.co.uk/networked-narrative