WOWsers: A Creative Explosion digital exhibition
This exhibition offers a a creative snapshot into the lives, concerns and passions of girls and non-binary young people living in Britain today. Created in partnership with BBC’s Children in Need's A Million & Me programme, the exhibition is the result of the first ever online, UK wide WOWsers programme - A Creative Explosion.
Over the past 12 years, WOW has provided a powerful, joyful and safe space for tens of thousands of ordinary women, girls and non-binary people to learn about intersectional feminism and celebrate and promote positive change. Our WOWsers programme is a dedicated initiative for young people to develop their leadership skills and to work together collaboratively to explore activism and gender equality in a fun and accessible way.
It's taken place all over the world in countries including Nepal, Australia, Brazil and China.
For this first online edition, we invited girls and non-binary young people aged 8 to 16 years old from BBC Children in Need funded organisations to join this creative project. Taking place from May to September, this brand new cohort of WOWsers explored art, activism and leadership through four convening sessions and a series of How To Workshops. The result is WOWsers: A Creative Explosion, a digital exhibition available to explore now.
Our four convening sessions took place on the last Wednesday of the months of May, June, July and August 2021.
These sessions were inspired by WOW's Young Leaders Directory and the convenings of young leaders, which began in 2020 as part of our International Day of the Girl celebrations.
Convening sessions brought together our WOWsers with artists, campaigners and activists from across the UK and the globe. Below you will find information on each convening session and the amazing people who joined us.
After each convening session we created a short zine to capture what had happened.
Broadcaster Gemma Cairney and street artist and performance maker Heather Marshall joined us in May for our premiere convening session. We explored allyhood, creating art in public spaces and our understanding of activism.
Gemma is a multi-award winning broadcaster, published author, production company founder, magpie, activist and life enthusiast. Since graduating from BBC Radio 1 in 2016, Gemma has successfully migrated to BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 4. Gemma has made several radio and television documentaries and has been awarded two Sony Golds and the Best Music Show Rose d’Or. She made royal history by hosting a live Google hangout from Buckingham Palace for The Queen’s Young Leader project alongside HRH Prince William and HRH Prince Harry. She is also founder of boutique production company – Boom Shakalaka Productions, an Ambassador for Oxfam and lends her support to Women’s Aid. Gemma has been part of WOW's journey for several years. Check out this video she made with WOW interviewing girls in 2015.
Heather Marshall is a queer, disabled, multi award winning, socio political artist and writer. She often works under the company name Creative Electric where she creates theatre and live art with and for people that may not traditionally engage in the arts due to social and/or financial barriers. Heather has created work for many local, national and international organisations including Edinburgh International Festival, National Theatre of Scotland, ITAC 4 New York and Scottish Youth Theatre.
Throughout all these connections she has focused on elevating and celebrating voices that may not traditionally be heard within their communities.
Heather is currently creating an adaption of Medusa inspired by her and other women’s experiences of living with premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The work is being supported by Creative Scotland, Stellar Quines and The Playwrights Studio Scotland.
In June we were joined by Mariyah and Sajidah from Speakers Corner in Bradford, as well as poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan. Mariyah and Sajidata led a session focusing on mental health and Suhaiymah spoke to the participants about her work as a poet.
Suhaiymah is a writer, poet, educator and activist who disrupts ideas of history, race, knowledge and violence. Her poetry performances based on her collection Postcolonial Banter have millions of views online and she was the National Roundhouse Poetry Slam runner-up in 2017. Suhaiymah has written for the Guardian and gal-dem and her work has featured across radio and TV stations. She has been commissioned to write plays by The Royal Court and other theatres and has essays in numerous anthologies. Suhaiymah is currently writing plays for Kiln and Freedom Studios, and has an exciting project coming out in 2022.
Find out more atwww.suhaiymah.com
In July we took a deep dive into our feminist sheroes through the medium of bingo! We touched on subjects such as Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+ rights and disability activism. Our WOWser Katie led a conversation in response to the question “can you separate the art from the artist” and we heard from Young Scots Woman of the Year Amanda Amaeshi.
Amanda Amaeshi is a 17-year-old British Nigerian from Fife in Scotland and a 6th year student at Dollar Academy. She’s the Editor-in-Chief of her school’s student magazine, The Galley. She writes about a wide range of issues, from period poverty to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. She won the 2017 Young Reporters for the Environment competition, writing about food waste. Amanda is also passionate about youth social action: she was a Year of Young People 2018 ambassador, and she is currently a Girlguiding Advocate and Young Scot YSHealth panel member. She was featured on the YWCA Scotland’s 30 Under 30 list for 2020, and in April 2021 was named the Glasgow Times’ Young Scotswoman of the Year 2020.
You can find her on Twitter @amandaamaeshi and find more of her work here.
Our final convening session was a biggie. We were joined by musician, campaigner and urban ecologist Ditty all the way from India! And two WOW Young Leaders - climate activists Ariadne Papatheodorou from Greece and Theresa Rose Sebastian from Ireland. We were blown away by the power of Ditty’s words and music and inspired by the examples of work shared by Ariadne and Theresa Rose.
Ditty is an Indian independent artist and urban ecologist whose music is inspired by the natural world. She started by playing music on the streets to reclaim public spaces. Her 2019 debut album, Poetry Ceylon, was named the debut album of the year by India Today. Ditty was selected as one of 30 emerging artists from all around the globe to be part of the Talent Exporter Program at Midem 2020. She is currently collaborating with German organisation Viva con Agua to set up an artist collective– Faraway Friends, to address urgent ecological topics through art and inclusion. With her tour, Make Forests Not War, she is working on a conscious model for artist touring to offset carbon emissions. Ditty is actively planting forests in India and is working on her upcoming record Skin.
Ariadne Papatheodorou is a 16-year-old climate justice, gender equality and human rights activist from Athens. She is one of the lead organisers for Fridays for Future Greece and a core member for PeriodLink, an organisation that provides sexual and menstrual health education for girls in Ghana. She is a co-founder for Re-Earth Initiative, an international climate organisation fighting for social justice. Ariadne has been volunteering with refugees in Greece for many years and has also played an active role in organising international events such as Talks for Future, People of the Planet and other campaigns for Fridays for Future Internationally. Ariadne is creating an app to help teenage refugees have a way for education.
Check out Ariande in 2020's Young Leaders Directory!
Theresa Rose Sebastian
Theresa is a climate and social justice activist. Her passion for environmental justice was ignited when her family and herself found themselves stuck in the Kerala floods of 2018. These floods opened up Theresa's eyes to the reality of the climate crisis. Fortunately having the privilege to come home to Ireland where she is living currently, she realised how unfair this crisis will affect people, her native home and her family. She then started her journey to raise more awareness and education. Her work currently revolves around increasing educational awareness through curriculum, social media as well as working on policy reform to ensure a sustainable city to pass on to the next generation.
Check out Theresa in 2020's Young Leaders Directory!