An exhibition of children’s artwork to celebrate the legacy of Stephen Lawrence has opened in London.
The Stephen Lawrence Research Centre (SLRC), based at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), invited schools and children to create words and pictures imagining what a hopeful future might look like for them.
Prof Lemm, Jess Neal, Dr Palmer, Kiaser and his cousin Eli
With hundreds of works submitted, the exhibition, which was originally shown at DMU’s Leicester Gallery, is both a moving commemoration of Stephen’s legacy and an optimistic vision for the future from the generation that Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence has said will be the change in the UK.
The theme of Hopeful Futures is inspired by Baroness Lawrence and her family who, through the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, promote a hopeful and fairer society for all. Wider themes included love, care, change, friendship and family.
The University of Greenwich’s Stephen Lawrence Gallery is now hosting the exhibition until June 22. It is poignant as Stephen and his family were from South London and Baroness Lawrence and family maintain close connections with the university.
More than 100 works by children aged from seven to 18 are on show and, once the exhibition is finished, the work will be preserved in the Stephen Lawrence Archive at DMU.
Jess Neal, Prof Owusu-Karteng, Dr Palmer and Dr Bakkali
A special event was held this week to officially open the exhibition, hear from guest speakers and participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Greenwich school pupil Kiaser Simpson contributed a picture of his own superhero creation Lightning King and was applauded after making his own, touching speech.
The 13-year-old said: “I love all of the work and I am proud of everyone who did such a great job and put their heart and soul into this.
“Stephen, rest in peace. We will think about you every day. The future looks bright and let’s keep making it brighter.”
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Opening the speeches was Prof Louise Owusu-Kwarteng, Associate Dean of Student Success and Vanessa Lemm, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean for the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Jessica Neal, CEO of Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation was also present along with Dr Lisa Palmer, Director of DMU’s SLRC, and Dr Yusuf Bakkali, a Research Fellow at the SLRC.
Dr Palmer said: “With the 30th anniversary of Stephen’s tragic murder we wanted to emphasise his legacy and this exhibition is a way of engaging children in what is a difficult and troubling subject, but at the same time gives them an opportunity to look to a better future.”
Dr Bakkali added: “We had school children from as far afield as Cornwall and Liverpool getting involved. Stephen Lawrence is a symbol of hope and standing up for justice. It is important young people are inspired to stand up at the right time, even if things seem unsurmountable.”
Jessica Neil said: “Stephen Lawrence has the power to bring people together to fight for change. Children from up and down the country are remembering Stephen and his legacy through this exhibition and looking to a more hopeful future in his memory.”
In her speech Professor Lemm said: “It is critical we reflect on the past with a view to building new futures. The imagination and creativity we see here has a role to play and it resonates with the faculty and what this university stands for.
“Inclusive communities and environments generate societal change.”
In a statement Baroness Lawrence, who was unable to attend due to commitments in the House of Lords, said: “The Hopeful Futures Creative Challenge invites young people to imagine a future in which discrimination does not exist. Imagination is one of the most powerful tools we can use to inspire meaningful societal change”
Posted on Friday 9th June 2023