Alfred Gunn House, 1980

Play and work with children and young people were both a significant part of the early work of community artists. One location for play and mural work in Sandwell was Alfred Gunn House in Langley, a 10 storey high block dating from 1962.

One of the Jubilee drama workers in the 1970s was Stephen Lacey. He recalls: “There was a strong sense that one did not want to work inside existing institutions, that the real work would only begin once you stepped outside institutions and started inventing alternatives. That sense of finding the alternative and changing the model, changing the way of working, became increasingly important I think.”

Steve Trow spoke at the time about the importance of developing a relationship of trust with the kids: “What is interesting about play is that we were acceptable ­– official people were not – but we were official, the only difference was that we did not look official, in fact the yellow dungarees which we all wore did not fit any categories that the children would have encountered before, therefore they did not reveal any inherent attitudes as they would have done if we had been readily identifiable with an authorative or official body. Also, we joined in with all the games with the kids and this equality was particularly reinforced when we had a meeting, in which everyone had the opportunity to speak and be listened to. Another thing was key elements of the Contract, which is a/ to look after yourself b/ to look after everybody else c/ to look after the materials.” 

It was all about having fun, and about being given responsibility. Activities were designed to encourage children’s development, learning, creativity and independence, as well as developing social and problem solving skills.


Stephen Lacey quote from ‘Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art, The British Community Arts Movement’, edited by Alison Jeffers and Gerri Moriarty, Bloomsbury, 2017. You can find a pdf of this online.

Similar Images From the Digital Library

Below are a selection of hand picked photos and images from the Digital Library similar to this one. If you'd like to explore even deeper into themes relating to this image then checkout a curated Digital Library search relating to this image.

Share this on social networks: