[This text was originally published in: Kenna, C., Medcalf, L., and Rick Walker (1986) Printing is Easy…? Community Printshops 1970 – 1986.]
Greenwich Mural Workshop. Reprinted with permission from the publishers. The Some Girls posters were based on research carried out by Carola Adams and Leah Thorn for the National Association of Youth Clubs. They were investigating the widest implications for young women of the term 'risks in being young and being female', They used photography extensively in their research, both taking pictures themselves and using it as an activity in itself with the young women. They also kept diaries daily of the conversations they had with the girls and these formed the starting point for the designs. Carola and Leah, having been unsuccessful in finding women designers to work on the project, asked Graham Peet of Telford Community Arts and Jonnie Turpie of Wolverhampton Poly to work with them to produce some draft designs, based on nine key quotes which they had chosen. In order to check that we weren't making wrong assumptions, or being adultist, we asked a young women's group who met at Telford Community Arts' Printshop to offer their criticism of the ideas we'd prepared.
"I thought you'd never want to see us again after we'd torn them to pieces" said one of the young women later. We changed the designs and produced more alternatives, and took them back to the group. So started a long process of discussion and of reshaping the original ideas with the young women. Sometimes they would dismiss ideas we had as 'pointless' and at other times would suggest changes which seemed subtle but which were crucial from their point of view" We hate boys when they call us slags" had to be changed to "We hate you when you call girls slags" before it could be used, It's not only boys who say slag, it's everyone".
Having honed in on nine designs from about forty, Carola and Leah went back to the young women whose photos we wanted to use, to discuss with them whether they agreed with the context in which they were to be seen. In some cases it proved impossible to find them again and so the Printshop group became further involved in making photos to suit. "I didn't say the things, but I'm on it because I agree with it..." said one girl; another said "it helps girls who are a bit embarrassed to get their view across".
When a tape-slide presentation and the poster mock-ups were shown to the project’s management committee the representatives of the Department of Education and Science threw their hands up in horror. The idea of Carola and Leah producing their research findings in such form was too much and they threatened to withdraw the money from the project as a whole. The reason for this was that the DES felt, even from the early photos that the slide tape and posters were a powerful and emotive way of presenting ideas and that such a presentation wood be out of their control, "Too open to mis-interpretation ("you are telling lies about girls" were the sort of arguments the DES offered. Very different to "lt's true that is, I agree with that poster", a reaction which was typical of young women's feelings when we showed them the mock-ups. So we decided to try and publish them ourselves since the project had only three months to go. To their credit NAVC stuck by the work and even offered to buy the whole of the first print run of 500 sets, in return for which they were nominated as publishers. It had become too large a printing job to undertake at the TCA printshop so Fly Press and Badger did the printing, When they were finally available the project was over and the DES opposition simply faded away.
The whole process took about a year and though probably only part of it could be called community arts it was the young women's group in Telford whose influence had been paramount in the project - they knew that it was what they thought and said that mattered in the end, The young womens group continued to meet and work with Carola on their own magazine and graphic work for several years Leah now works as Specialist Youth Officer for Girls and Young Women at ILEA and Graham and Jonnie went on to work on graphics and video work with another group of young people in Telford…