WHY? Festival: Peace Mosaic

In August 2015, we were asked by the Southbank Centre to take part in WHY? What’s Happening for the Young Festival 22nd to 25th October. We had previously built up a relationship with them after Barry and Margaret Mizen, MBEs were chosen to be part of the 67 ‘Change Makers’ exhibition at the Festival of Love 2015.

“Too many families are losing young people to violence across the UK. We want to create a mosaic of handprints to bring all of our young people together, as a pledge to help us make our communities safer.”

Margaret Mizen, MBE.

WHY? Festival is an opportunity for individuals to learn about and celebrate young people’s rights alongside artists, thinkers and social activists and is based around the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child articles. Article 6: Life, Survival and Development is something we set out to help achieve within our communities when our Jimmy died. Every child has the right to life and that governments must do all they can to ensure that children survive and development to their full potential.

For this reason we proposed to create a mosaic alongside the Riverside Terrace Café of handprints, created from 176 sheets of Perspex. Half of which would be assigned to invited schools, and half members of the public. Each sheet was then annotated with one of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child articles.

“Today I think I’ve learned about people’s bravery. I’m in awe of some people here and their resilience and what you can achieve by just putting your mind to it and being stubborn. I think everyone here is amazing and I’m trying not to cry!”

Adala, West Norwood

The creation of the mosaic began on the morning of 22nd October, with a total of 51 invited schools bringing up their chosen representatives to help us create the artwork over Thursday and Friday. Once half the Peace Mosaic was built, members of the public were then welcomed to add their own handprints, which saw people from across London, the UK and the world pledge their handprints for peace.

“In Germany we don’t have initiatives like this that have information for children, rather than just parents. The way you inform the children and they learn is a really good thing, a different idea.”

Anya, Hamburg, Germany.

The creation of the Peace Mosaic encapsulated the hopes of thousands of young people living in London and across the UK. Every handprint added symbolises a pledge of peace to make our communities safer, and a hope for a future where each of these rights of young people will always be upheld and protected.

The Peace Mosaic was exhibited alongside the Riverside Terrace Café for one week over the school half term. We then delivered each separate piece of Perspex back to the schools that helped us build it, so they could put their piece of the artwork on display.

“I think that to change society you need to start with the youngsters. Youth is more likely to take change on board. People get set in their mind and it’s difficult to influence their everyday thoughts, so I think we should get children involved.”

Norma, Essex

A big thank you to the Southbank Centre for allowing us to be a part of such a brilliant and thought provoking festival. You can see a full gallery of photos from the day here. Or read more in this article in The Evening Standard.

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