Imagine Sheppey Fast Forward
Imagine Sheppey Fast Forward is a research project about how young people – 16 and over on the brink of adult lives – imagine their futures.
It is a collaborative, interdisciplinary and methodologically experimental project!
Collaborative. Imagine Sheppey is a collaboration between a group of artists – Tea – Peter Hatton (also School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent), Lynn Pilling and Val Murray – two sociologists – Dawn Lyon and Giulia Carabelli, School of School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Research, University of Kent – and the young people we recruited to take part in the project. Together we identified three sites in and around Sheerness to hold the project workshops. The activities were designed to be loosely associated with the use of those places – leisure, work and residential. We also worked with the Blue Town Heritage Centre and teachers and students at the Swale Campus of Canterbury College.
Interdisciplinary. Imagine Sheppey is a research project that brings together different ways of thinking from the arts and social sciences. The research was based on a series of workshops using ‘creative methods’ in which young people explored imagined futures through improvised performances, play, and talk. In addition, we used images from these workshops as the basis for focus group discussions with a wider group of young people.
Experimental. Central to Imagine Sheppey was a series of one-day workshops during which young people experimented with making small changes to existing places to show and stimulate different ideas and images of the future. The participants took charge of the project by directing, filming and photographing the workshop activities. As a way of reflecting on these activities, we held a collage-making workshop in which participants further explored their imagined futures. Based on the video shot at the workshops, the artists Tea put together a documentary of the project which we hope will also inspire different ways of imagining the future!
The bigger picture
Imagine Sheppey emerged from earlier research we did in the Living and Working on Sheppey project (2009-11) in which school leavers were asked to write an essay imagining what their futures would hold in terms of work and family life. These essays were a direct comparison to similar essays gathered by Ray Pahl on the Isle of Sheppey in the late 1970s.
Imagine Sheppey started in October 2013 and was funded for one year. It is part of a larger Connected Communities research grant from an AHRC/ESRC joint initiative on Community Engagement and Mobilisation. The larger project is called, ‘The social, historical, cultural and democratic context of civic engagement: imagining different communities and making them happen’ – or Imagine for short – grant no ES/K002686/1.