Photofusion Community Programmes: Interview with Lizzy King

In light of the recent Photofusion Community Programmes exhibition, one of our interns interviewed the person behind Photofusion’s outreach work, Lizzy King…

Lizzy King is in charge of Photofusion’s Community Programmes department. I meet her at a café in the trendy Market Row in Brixton, which is in the same building as Photofusion. She tells me that before Photofusion received funding for her role managing projects in 2011 there was nobody concentrating only on outreach. Lizzy started working part-time but as the department grew with an increasing amount of projects she moved to full-time.

Previous to Photofusion she worked in various charity jobs related to arts and youth. Lizzy worked for example with music education for young people and with young female refugees in an arts project. The job at Photofusion offers a good mix for Lizzy as it gives a nice balance between working with youth and the creative sector. She enjoys working directly with youth and the networking opportunities that comes with the job.

© Angela Pease-Watkin – Image from the Photofusion Community Programmes exhibition 2013

Lizzy’s first outreach project that she managed from start to finish was a three week intensive photography course for 10 young offenders on ISS, which is the highest security order. This was very hard work, she explains – it was her first project, the three weeks were really intense, and the riots happened in the middle of it.

Although this first project was tough, it made a lasting impression on Lizzy and the rest of Photofusion. She looks back at the project with a smile on her face – it was rewarding as the outcome was very positive. Lizzy learned how arts can affect the lives of young people. One participant said that he never had completed anything before in his life. Even if the project may not have changed anyone’s life completely, it kept these kids out of trouble for three weeks. Many projects later, Lizzy still thinks of this project as one of her favourites.

Later projects have taken on various forms, including mixed media and cooperation with other arts institutions, for example theatre at The Ovalhouse Theatre. With growing experience of different projects, Lizzy is increasingly appreciating how lens based work can affect an area on life. She explains that the process the young people go through during the courses involves first understanding what has happened and then use a camera or mixed media to express this.

© Shaun Carmody – Image from the Photofusion Community Programmes exhibition 2013

Lizzy’s work is very varied. Apart from managing the projects and working daily with youth, she is also busy chasing participants who are late for class, and speaking to social workers dealing with the youth. It is also a lot of fun; she learns new things about youth culture. As an example Lizzy tells me about a dance move that involves a lot of bum wiggling called ‘twerking’ (you can try to convince her to show you…). One of Lizzy’s favourite moments was when she talked well about a student in class and the student said that she wished her mother could hear this. Lizzy often gives her students positive feedback whenever possible.

Another reward is to see the students’ work. The current exhibition at Photofusion is a rare opportunity to see what students can achieve. Lizzy is very proud of the exhibition. The opening night was busy and nice with many family members and friends coming to see the work. She is happy to finally see photographs hanging formally in a gallery environment and give the work the space they deserve. Because sometimes, she says, there is so much going on every day with the projects that the photographs don’t get so much attention.

The coffee cups are empty and Lizzy hurries back to the office to work on a new project.

City & Guilds

© Vincent Gasana. Image from the Photofusion Community Programmes exhibition 2013


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By intern, Mari Boman