Little White Liars was devised and led by young apprentice Harriet Williams during a two week intensive arts apprenticeship at Site Gallery. Harriet wanted to create an investigative piece for the web which looks at our response to lies. She was particularly keen to focus on what we call ‘white lies’ – lies that cause relatively minor harm and exist to please or spare offence and upset. Despite their often good intensions, rarely do we like to admit to telling our white lies to anyone and yet they are an essential part of everyday human interaction.
These ideas prompted Harriet to ask passers by to confess to her a minor lie they’d recently told whilst she took a full body photo of them holding a piece of card in front of their face. Most obliged on the promise of remaining anonymous. Harriet then edited and arranged the photos into a gallery and taking into account characteristics such as gender, dress, height and other suggestive visual signifiers; she juxtaposed each photo with another person’s lie. Harriet’s intention was to provoke the viewer to question the judgments we make about lies and who we perceive to be behind them.
Little White Liars and three other creative assignments undertaken by Harriet during her apprenticeship will be entered for a Bronze Arts Award qualification in autumn 2010. The Arts Award is a flexible, independent qualification set up by Trinity College London and the Arts Council England to support young people who want to deepen their engagement with the arts, build creative and leadership skills, and achieve a national qualification.
Site Young Apprentice Scheme [SYAS] gives 14 to 21 year olds the opportunity to work more closely with the gallery on a variety of creative activities such as being part of the decision making process for commissioning new work.
In July 2010 the gallery piloted an intensive two week apprenticeship for eight young people [14 – 17] as a vocational extension of the SYAS. The pilot offered a practical insight into careers in the contemporary art sector through a range of exciting assignments and artists’ talks. Apprentices developed creative, media and workplace skills in a ‘real work’ style environment and led their own creative projects while working towards an Arts Award qualification and gaining a written reference outlining their achievements.