Result of creative workshops with 60 pupils at local schools
Artist Kay Rufai with some of the portraits
A free exhibition of portraits has opened at Southside Shopping Centre featuring images of smiling Black boys.
The work is the culmination of eight weeks of creative workshops with 60 Black pupils from local schools including Ark Putney Academy, Ark Bolingbroke Academy and St John Bosco College.
The S.M.I.L.E (SEND ME INSPIRING LOVING ENERGY)-ing Boys project is a research-led creative arts project created by artist Kay Rufai and supported by Wandsworth Council.
The S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys exhibition is on display Wed 9 - Fri 25 February 2022, outside the Waitrose entrance of the centre in Wandsworth town.
The project aims to use creativity to address the mental health needs of Black boys, while challenging the negative stereotypes of this demographic in the media and in society.
Kay identified eight factors responsible for happiness which were used to design the workshops with 13-year-old Black boys involving poetry, film, discussion-based art sessions and photography.
To date, Kay has worked with over 300 13-year-old boys from across ten London boroughs and has displayed their portraits all over London.
The leader of the council Cllr Ravi Govindia and deputy mayor Lucy Mowat attended the launch of the exhibition
Kay Rufai said, "The S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys project has provided me with the opportunity to realise a vision of creating a humanised version of Black boys while advocating for a more care-centred approach to supporting their mental well-being. It is the project I needed when I was 13 and never had, which is bringing me healing and joy simultaneously."
#One S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys participant, Sashon, said, “I enjoyed it because I could express myself a bit more than I would in normal classes and it’s like a free environment where you could just talk about how you’re feeling and I feel more educated with what’s going on around me. It made me realise some deeper things.”
The artist with council leader Ravi Govindia (right) at the launch
Cabinet member for community services and open spaces Cllr Steffi Sutters said, “Kay Rufai’s poetic film Black Future was commissioned as part of Wandsworth Borough Council’s Black History Month cultural programming in 2020, and we are delighted to continue to support and champion Kay’s work into 2022 with this project.
“The health and wellbeing of Wandsworth’s children and young people plays a significant role in our vision for arts and culture in the borough, and the S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys project is a brilliant example of how creativity can make a positive impact on the mental health and well-being of our communities.”
The S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys project is supported by the Wellcome Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England. The series of workshops with Wandsworth schools in 2021-22 has been supported by the council’s Wandsworth Grant Fund.
Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More
This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.
Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.
We've always done that and won't be changing, in fact we'd like to do more.
However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.
We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.
A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.
One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.
If you do support us in this way we'd be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.
For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you'd like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.
May 6, 2022