See_Me_Exhibition_West_Wharf_Gallery_InstallationI have recently been involved in a wonderful art project supporting looked after children in Wales – mainly foster children – to engage in creating artwork on the theme of identity.

This involved advising the Foster Care Cooperative on what materials and resources to use and how to engage the young people in the process of translating their ideas of self-perception and personal identity into a composition and then a painting.

With the support of a team of volunteers, we staged three workshops and 44 pieces of artwork were created most of which were accompanied by a brief narrative outlining their thoughts and ideas behind the paintings. Some were funny, others were moving.

We launched the exhibition in the West Wharf Gallery with an event. Karl Davies from the BBC Trust and Ian Hargreaves, the CEO of Foster Care Cooperative, spoke to celebrate the outstanding work of the young people, many of whom were present.

The exhibition runs for two weeks.

SeeMe_CherryBlossom PRESS RELEASE

This is a memory from when I was really happy. My mum used to walk me to school through a graveyard. There were Cherry Trees everywhere.” CR, aged 15.

The Foster Care Cooperative announces the opening event of its “See Me” art exhibition at West Wharf Gallery, Cardiff on 5 April 2014 from 12pm featuring the artwork of Looked After Children from around Wales. The launch event is being opened by Karl Davies, Chief Adviser Wales at the BBC Trust. The exhibition and launch event is open to the public, who are invited to read the accompanying narratives explaining the at times moving thoughts and memories behind the impressive and varied array of paintings and collages. The exhibition is much more than just a collection of paintings, it marks a retrospective of experiences and an expression of personal perceptions as related by young people in the care system in Wales. As a collection it represents a heart-warming, refreshing and sometimes raw insight into young minds, who look to the future with the unswerving support of their foster carers and organisations such as the Foster Care Cooperative.

The Foster Care Cooperative exists to support both Looked After Children and foster carers.

There are nearly 6000 children in the care of local authorities in Wales over ⅓ of whom are aged between 10 and 15 years old. Less than 5% live in residential placements, only 5% are placed for adoption while over ¾ of Looked After Children live with foster carers. There has been a slow increase in adoptions but waiting times to move between entry into care and adoption is on average over 2½ years1.

These figures underline the pivotal role of the foster carer – ordinary yet extraordinary people – who offer stability, love and direction for vulnerable and often misunderstood young people of all ages.

The young people, who have contributed to this art exhibition, attended three art workshops in which they were assisted in the process of collecting their thoughts into a series of sketches and doodles and then translating these thoughts into a concept and composition, which they went on to finish as a painting or collage. Many surprised themselves at what they were able to achieve, but as budding artists they definitely have the edge: life experience.

If you would like to view their work, the exhibition is open from 5-19th April at West Wharf Gallery, top floor of Jacob’s Building, Cardiff CF10 5DB. Tel: 07904 514942.

Launch event open to the public with light refreshments and music by Midnight Martini at 12pm, 5 April.

Organised by the Foster Care Cooperative,, Tel: 029 2046 4348.

1 Source: