Conditions of worth are the expectations we think we must meet in order for other people to accept and love us. We take on board other people’s values and ideas of how we should be. If we don’t examine why we think the things we think, then we soon lose clarity of who we really are. To find our true worth and identity, we need to first separate out what we believe to be right for ourselves and then resist the expectations of people around us. Only then can we learn to unconditionally love ourselves.
Social media, self expression and self identity is a growing problem for young people. Finding a way through the ‘selfie’ culture, fake Instagram and Facebook lives and trying to establish a true identity, has never been harder for young people. So I decided to start a project that would help young people start to explore, accept and appreciate who they really are.
Over the last few years groups of students have been put into pairs and asked to interview each other. Working with some talented young poets, the students were then asked to craft poems about each other. Finally, after teaching them the art of photography, the students were asked to photograph each other based on the poems they had created. Peel is a collection of these poems and photographs.
The Peel exhibition will be held during London Fashion Week, at the Hospital Club from September 14th to 16th 2017. Lenticular printing technology will enable the exhibition prints to be viewed as a poem from one angle and a photographic portrait from another.
In contrast to the fashion cat walk, Peel will feature a poetry reading at the private view opening. A round table debate and discussion will be attended the following day by government ministers from health and education and representatives from professional bodies and charities concerned with young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Looking at how to safe guard our future generation will form the focus of discussion, addressing ways of turning negative and destructive behaviours into constructive attitudes that lead to positive transformation.
The PEEL story so far
Project PEEL was born in 2013. Marksteen wanted to see if he could inspire and engage with young teenagers in his local village who were roaming the streets at night, looking bored. He had the idea of creating a photographic project combining photography with a focus on key words that describe a particular emotion, Anger, Hope, Joy, Love, Sadness, Spirituality, Angst etc… picking one word for each session to drive the brief for the portraits that they would then take of each other.
He met with 12 of them once a week on a Wednesday evening in the local King’s Coffee House he’d just finished refurbishing with a team of volunteers and the first PEEL workshop was born. After some initial reluctance, all the students became involved and created some great results. One of the students, Prudence Bond, ended up being his apprentice and is now at Bristol University studying photo-journalism. Prudence has been a trainer on the last three workshops, helping, supporting and inspiring the students.
That same year, Marksteen invited Marian Cramers – specialist in data analytics, to start thinking about the project. Marian has continued to be involved in the project and is responsible for the statistics provided in the book and on the website.
In 2016, Marksteen invited the first two young talented creative writers, Indy Roberts and Fabio Thomas, to come on-board and help him explore narrative further, using poetry to create the foundations and brief for the subsequent portraiture. Indy also worked with Marksteen to develop the questions that help students interview each other. In 2017, creative writer Natalie Thomas and creative writer and teacher Olivia Tan, joined the last workshop of the season as trainers and worked with Marksteen to develop the project into a series of educational tools and helpful guides for teachers based on secondary school curriculum guidelines.
Steven Tatlow joined the last PEEL workshop and helped support and guide the students. He also assisted on the design of the website and some of the project management and copy proofing.
Back at the agency, Marksteen worked with his team at Agency ASHA to produce all the branding, design, exhibition prints and collateral for project PEEL. Every member of the ASHA team was involved and worked hard to carefully and lovingly produce the book, website and lenticular exhibition. The project is a labour of love and all time and resources have been donated freely to the project. HIVE associates, who produced the special lenticular images for the exhibition, and BOSS Print who printed the book, generously did so at a greatly reduced cost in order to support the project.
The project has been three years in the making with an ever-growing team of volunteers and supporters and is a gift to all our young people. It therefore available at no cost to teachers and youth group leaders. If you are a secondary school teacher, you can apply for a login code and download all resources from projectpeel.org. Resources will be available in spring 2018. All net profits go to The Big Cold Turkey Foundation and are distributed among projects and charities concerned with youth welfare.
PEEL is one of many studies that Marksteen has directed over the years, including ‘Behold The Man’ and ‘The Stations’.
He also has a day job and you can read his full biography at www.agencyasha.com
His other ‘work in progress’ studies are constantly updated at www.marksteen.com
Find out more about our foundation at www.bigcoldturkey.com