Khaleda Noon: The art of connecting with your community

Some of the young women part of the charity's Heritage and Inclusion Project at Drummond Community High School.
Some of the young women part of the charity's Heritage and Inclusion Project at Drummond Community High School.
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Throughout June, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh is hosting an art exhibition featuring works created by a group of young women from Action for Children Scotland’s Heritage and Inclusion Project.

Since July last year, Action for Children Scotland has been working with young women from different cultural backgrounds in Edinburgh to reduce the levels of isolation they face.

Part of a two-year programme funded by the Heritage Lottery and in partnership with the Scottish National Gallery, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Napier ENSA and Edinburgh University, the project will work with 50 young women, of 18 different nationalities, in four schools. Its aim is to make these young women much more aware of their own heritage while helping them better engage with their own, and wider, communities.

Although still in its first year, it has had a very positive effect on those involved, with one young woman describing it as being exactly what she needed and coming at just the right time for her. A lasting legacy will be created through shared learning with their classmates, the wider community and via a series of public events, exhibitions and a documentary film.

Recently, the young women have been working to develop an art installation based on Judy Chicago’s famous The Dinner Party – one of the first pieces of feminist artwork that symbolised the history of women in Western civilisation.

Following a launch event at The National Gallery of Scotland, the exhibition can be seen this month at the National Gallery of Modern Art Scotland. The artwork aims to celebrate women, champion female role models and promote greater cultural awareness. Local families from wide cultural backgrounds will attend the launch event, promoting heritage and raising awareness of the available services.

Each and every participant has thrown themselves fully into this art exhibition. With the support of the excellent local artist Morwenna Kearsley, the young women have taken inspiration from the iconic feminist artwork, but also from identifying and investigating strong female role models.

Through learning about historic women leaders from migrant backgrounds, the young women have reported feeling a much greater sense of identity and that the whole process has helped them think more about diversity and inclusion.

It is hoped this project will go a long way towards reducing many of the barriers they face – while inspiring them to play a more prominent role in their communities

Taking part in the art exhibition has proven a wonderful experience for the young women and we hope as many Scotsman readers as possible will make it along to the exhibition, view the artwork and hear their stories first-hand.

The exhibition runs during June at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR.

Khaleda Noon is the service co-ordinator at Action for Children Scotland’s Heritage and Inclusion Project.