A 3.1m free portrait installation supported by Young Kensington & Chelsea Foundation, opens today at Earls Court.

One of the first things commuters will see when they emerge from the Warwick Road exit of Earl’s Court Underground Station from today Thursday 7 March is a vast display of portraits shot by youngsters who are part of YOUNG ARTISTS, a photography programme founded by BAFTA and multi-award-winning artist Alison Jackson and supported by the Young Kensington & Chelsea Foundation.

The portraits captured during the programme culminate in a major public installation in partnership with The Earls Court Development Company. The installation is part of a wider programme of art at Earls Court, central to a vision to Bring the Wonder Back which will enliven the area as a destination and celebrate the creative talent of the local communities. Previous installations at this space include Baker and Borowski’s Pleasure Garden and Azarra Amoy’s Stars of Earl’s Court.

All the portraits were taken by young people aged 4-24 who are part of the YOUNG ARTISTS programme and live in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Many of them had never held a camera before joining the initiative which inspires, educates, and provides mentorship and opportunities.

Reflecting on the success of YOUNG ARTISTS, Alison Jackson, founder, and director of the programme, said:

“I started Young Artists to give all young people in Kensington and Chelsea an opportunity to unleash their creativity. There is a misconception that the area is filled with wealthy families, but many of the talented young people on the scheme didn’t have access to the equipment or opportunities they needed to shine. I wanted to discover new talent and aspiring photographers with fresh ways of seeing, and I did. The level of talent we’ve unearthed is extraordinary”.

Rob Heasman, CEO of The Earls Court Development Company, added:
“Since acquiring the site in 2019, we’ve made significant strides to prioritise public art and installations – from our involvement with Kensington and Chelsea Art Week for the past three years, to our Artist in Residence programme in partnership with The National Portrait Gallery.

Earl’s Court has long been recognised as a stage for world-class innovation, culture, and entertainment. Bringing culturally rich experiences to the site is fundamental to our vision for Earls Court and our collaboration with Alison Jackson and Young K&C is part to that.”

Cosmo Gimeno, a 23-year-old who took part in YOUNG ARTISTS, commented on the impact of the programme: “I now have a fully equipped studio with the Earls Court Development Company and have a regular freelance job there as photographer. Alison’s mentoring and support has been live changing.”

Ann Goodger, former Chief Executive of the Dalgarno Trust 2017 – 2002 where many of the Young Artist’s workshops took place says:

“This was an amazing event showing the talent of young people from throughout the borough. Kensington & Chelsea is a diverse borough, and this was the first time I have seen an audience that truly represented our community.”

The YOUNG ARTISTS programme provides photography workshops to youth centres, community centres, trusts, and schools. The outstanding portraits of young people featured in the installation were taken of each other at workshops held at Earls Court Youth Club, Dalgarno Trust, Fit for Life Youth, Lancaster and Chelsea Youth Hubs.

Each YOUNG ARTIST session utilises a pop-up flash studio and features over 20 cameras. Participants learn to take photos while also learning the history, professional disciplines, and techniques of photography.