Graffiti photos light the way

An image in the Strong Voices exhibition.
An image in the Strong Voices exhibition.
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The innovative work of teenagers with autism is to be showcased in an exhibition of ‘light graffiti’ called Strong Voices.

A group of 16 teenagers has been working with art studio Butterfly FX to create the artworks at Fort Nelson on Portsdown Hill.

The images were created by combining long-exposure photography with the movement of handheld lights.

Lisa Calder, from Butterfly FX, says the process is also known as ‘light painting’ and ‘light art photography’.

‘It is lots of fun and an experimental art form that allows people to create amazing images,’ she says.

‘It can be done individually, or as a group, and many effects can be incorporated into a single picture.’

Fort Nelson’s education team has been supporting the project. The artworks will go on show at the fort’s Royal Armouries Museum.

The images were inspired by some of the key exhibits in the fort’s artillery collection – the big guns – and its 19th century tunnels.

One of the teenagers, called Jack, says: ‘The project was amazing because I got to experiment with lights.

‘A highlight was working in one of the fort’s Victorian tunnels.’

Another participant, Pierre, says: ‘I liked experimenting with the lights and producing the outcome.

‘I used the wave style in my work. Looking back at the images gives me a relaxed and therapeutic feeling.’

Fort Nelson’s education officer, Eileen Clegg, says: ‘For young people with autism, visiting a museum or gallery can be a barrier in itself – they are teenagers, first and foremost, and don’t necessarily want to visit places with their parents in tow but they do need support when visiting somewhere new.

‘With the help of partner organisations, we have been able to enable them to explore both the museum’s collection and photographic techniques in depth.’

The project was commissioned by Artswork - South East Bridge, a group which helps people in deprived parts of Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant engage with museums.

The teenagers are part of the Portsmouth Autism Support Network.

Strong Voices runs from Sunday to Saturday, February 21 between 10am and 4pm. Admission is free. Visit royalarmouries.org for more.