School Desk Confidential

A series of drawings and writings on two vintage wooden school desks, dealing with experiences of alienation and difference in education.

A 2016 study by the charity Young Minds found that three children in every classroom has diagnosed mental-health difficulties, with almost half of all young people experiencing at least one adverse childhood experience that might impact their mental wellbeing. This project took as its starting point a memory of wooden school desks that functioned as confessional spaces: vivid, mutable graffiti artworks produced collaboratively—and often anonymously—by generations of students, expressing their fears and passions from the precipice of adulthood.

Here school desk graffiti is re-interpreted as a folk practice belonging specifically to young people, which provides a space for the voicing of narratives that might otherwise be overlooked or discouraged in educational settings. At the same time, the dual status of graffiti as vandalism and creative art form gestures towards the contested value of the folk arts more broadly. 

You can read a short article about the desks here: