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Scenes from the Lives of Local Boys

8 October 2004

Scenes from the Lives of Local Boys

Innovative student photography project to exhibit new images created by students at Wellington High School.

Creative educator and community arts activist Julie Esh had a unique idea for Wellington: give disposable cameras to high school boys, ask them to become researchers and visual thinkers, and then get them capturing scenes from their daily lives and the world as they see it. She called her project 'Boys Life', and solicited the help of local businesses, teachers, and Wellington City Council's Community Arts office.

Thanks to a generous response, and a group of creative students from Wellington High School, the project took shape in September 2004. The results - dozens of photographic essays about what it's like to be a young person in New Zealand's capital city - will be on view at the Wellington Main Library from October 11 to 17. The public is invited to meet the young photographers at the opening reception on Monday, 11 October at 6pm.

"I tried to encourage the boys to speak for themselves instead of being passive subjects," said Esh, "and empower them to articulate their emotions, think about photography in a more personal light, and share their identity."

Instead of framing the world according to adult perceptions of teenage boys and the adolescent world, Esh's project encouraged the participants to document their own perceptions of life as young people. It also provided a forum for them to be creative, engaged, and aware of visual elements.

"While there are many photographers documenting their own interpretation of youth culture and young people, the Boys Life project allows the students to speak for themselves," said Esh. "It asks the boys to develop their own thoughts and conclusions, and present the visual information that they feel is important." Eric Holowacz, Community Arts Co-ordinator for Wellington City Council immediately saw the benefits of the Boys Life project.

"Projects like Boys Life and the photography process also help instil a sense of confidence in the participants," said Holowacz. "Helping them realize their creative potential, become more expressive, and think about identity, relationships, and the world around us."

Holowacz helped Esh get the project off the ground, and notes that this project is a good indication that the creative city is constantly happening all around us.

The Boys Life project would not have been possible without the generous support of Wellington High School, Photography by Woolf, Art's OK, Photech, Gordon Harris, Wellington Photographic Society, and the Main Library.

Student work from the Boys Life project will be displayed at the Wellington City Library from October 11-17. For more information about this project and exhibition, contact Julie Esh on 021 250 0645 or by email at


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