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The Orwell Youth Prize 2020 - My Visual Documentation

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'If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear'.
-George Orwell

In early March 2020, I was asked to pay a visit to a young persons writing workshop day at the University of Hull, organised by The Orwell Youth Prize.
The day saw young people under 18 travel from various local schools to take part in discussions and activities under the prompt 'The Future We Want'.  The atmosphere was buzzing and it was great to see so many young writers all working together and sharing their ideas.

Embroidered face of George Orwell by Rachel AndersonMini embroidered pennant flags for the Orwell Youth Prize

I had been invited to watch all of this happen and produce a visual documentation of the events of the day, which I was honoured to do, and by the end of the day I had completed three quarters of a machine embroidered tapestry, filled with all the thoughts of the young people that I'd heard throughout the day.

Rachel sewing at her machine at the University of Hull
Photo Credit: Evan Chapman

It was great to be able to bring my sewing machine out of the studio and work surrounded by all the buzz of the day, with people regularly checking in to see how the tapestry was progressing.  

The workshops were organised aomg four main ideas, Climate, Community, Technology, and Education.  I visited each workshop session and picked out some of my favourite quotes that the young people were coming up with and embroidered them onto the tapestry, along with some simple imagery to illustrate their ideas.  I also embroidered a brilliant quote from local MP Emma Hardy, who spoke to the students at the closing assembly of the day;

"Don't ever think that you're too small to be making a difference. You, young people, are the most important people to be making differences now."

Rachel presents her tapestry so far on the Orwell Prize Day
Image Credit: Evan Chapman

At the end of the day I presented the work I had done so far on the tapestry to the overall group and showed them the quotes and ideas that had inspired me.  It was a great priviledge to be part of it and I got great feedback from the attendees, so all that was left was for me to take the tapestry back to my studio and finish it!  I just had to add the Community section and sew it all up into a neat little banner ready for the Youth Prize to take on tour with them for the other events and presentations they give throughout the year!

Rachel with the finished Orwell Youth Prize tapestry

The tapestry was completed and is now with the Orwell Youth Prize HQ in London ready for its next event!
This was a lovely project to be part of and I'd like to thank the Orwell Youth Prize for inviting me along to the day and for commissioning this piece of work.

Follow the Orwell Youth Prize on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with their work, and visit the Orwell Foundation website if you're an adult interested in writing!

Rachel x Signature

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