York Minster

Helen Moore, 12.12.2014
Using street art in a first world war outreach project
Earlier this year, York Minster ran a first world war outreach project with 80 young people aged from 13 to 19 in partnership with York’s Youth Services.

Two street artists were commissioned to explore themes of identity and remembrance inspired by the King’s Book of York Heroes, with portraits and details of more than 1,500 service men and women who died during the first world war.

The young people created a modern-day version of the book called York’s Book of Young Heroes, which included their own portraits, personal “tag” and sentence answering “what makes a hero?”.

Street art was selected as it is an accessible art form that appeals to young people.

The young people also created stencil artworks connected with the theme of remembrance using words such as conflict, prayer and peace, and symbols of prayer hands, medals and poppies.

A secondary project was run with the York Youth Offending Team with young people aged 16- to 18 doing bronze level Arts Award.

The young people developed their skills over 10 weeks, resulting in the creation of contemporary medal-shaped memorials populated with names from the King’s Book of York Heroes.

All artworks went on display in York Minster during the October 2014 half-term as part of the Saints and Heroes arts festival. Many of the young people visited with families and one of the young people from the Youth Offending Team volunteered at the event, working towards his silver Arts Award.

Throughout both projects the young people explored leaving their mark behind and the concept of saints and heroes. We hope that this has helped them relate to and reflect on the identities and legacies of their ancestors, as well as themselves. This contemporary creative approach to exploring history and heritage has proved successful in engaging with hard to reach young people.

Helen Moore is the community engagement officer at York Minster