Hanging Out: Youth culture then and now at the V&A
7th May - 4th September 2012
On the 11th May the Hanging Out Project display was launched at the V&A presenting a significant exploration of youth culture in 1950’s and 60’s London through the themes of fashion, film, entertainment, music and sport. Hosted in the Sackler Centre, many notable people in the arts, entertainments and cultural industries attended the launch of this stunning presentation that reflects the project’s prestige as one of Britain’s most innovative heritage displays.
Set against a display of 1950’s and 60’s fashion - kindly donated by Laurence Corner, photography, protest imagery and music memorabilia, the launch offered a wide range of interactive activities highlighting the artistic output of the project. This included live monologues written by young project contributors and performed by volunteer actors that reflected youth culture of that time.
The performance backdrop, a Wall Mural, produced by sixth form pupils at the Haverstock School in Camden, is of an authentic 1950’s Café, based on the legendary ACE Cafe in Brent. The project publication ‘Hanging Out’ was launched on the night and compiles all the project’s contributors and activities. In the V&A’s Digital Studio, visitors where given an opportunity to relive memories of that period by creating their own virtual gallery. This was set to the beat of a selection of music that left you in no doubt of the hypnotic attraction of rockabilly, rocksteady and ska music to that era’s teenagers.
The work of this creative partnership was masterfully showcased in the centrepiece of the night – the 60 minute documentary ‘Hanging Out: Youth culture then and now’, premiered to a full house at the Hochnauser Auditorium. This celluloid story wove together all the disparate activities of the project, leading to the creation of a beautiful tapestry of oral histories both from the past and present. These rich voices formed the backdrop to footage that painted a picture of several artistic and historical exchanges, through workshops, interviews and oral history sessions. They revealed genuine two-way partnerships, as histories of hanging out as young people were explored and exchanged, whilst myths and misconceptions between the generations were shattered.
The documentary revealed a common ground in the contributors’ mutual love of the arts and entertainment and included distinguished speakers such as former labour MP Tony Benn and Alex Pascall, Britain’s first black broadcaster on BBC London in the 1970’s and several of the documentary’s contributors were in attendance on the night. This was a multi-cultural gathering that reflected the invaluable contribution that the sons and daughters of Britain’s Commonwealth colonies, alongside native Britons, have made to Britain’s rich arts and cultural scene.
The vision behind the Hanging out concept and its multiple activities were introduced by Lorna Holder, MD of Full Spectrum Productions, prior to the screening. This is her fifth Heritage Lottery (HLF) funded production and was well received by the audience. Joining her on the stage was Wesley Kerr, Chair of the HLF London Committee and Emmajane Avery, Head of the Department of Learning V&A.
Several of the projects young volunteers and elders joined the celebrations of what sadly is the end of a special era for the staff and diverse participants of this project. What was clear from the many young people who spoke was that this was an important cultural production, that had not only educated them about a history they were eager to learn about, but equally significant was the inspiration and skills they gained from the artistic work they viewed and produced.
The exhibition runs from 7th May to 4th September 2012.
View the trailer for 'Hanging Out: Youth culture then and now' below:
The documentary, produced by Tuareg Productions, will be screened at the V&A at various seminars including:
Where Did You Hang Out? Saturday 30th June 2012, 12.00 – 17.00,
After the War - 50s and 60s Style, Image and Identity, Sunday 8th July 2012, 12.00 – 17.00
Youth Protest - The Teenager's Voice, Sunday 22nd July 2012, 12.00 – 17.00.
A free copy of the 'Hanging Out' book written by the volunteers, which presents the research and activities from the project, will be available at the documentary screenings.
Details on the programme of related special events are available online at www.vam.ac.uk.
The monologues at the V&A shall be performed by young volunteer actors including:
Marsha Miller Consultant Playwright/Director for the monologues at the V&A :