Digitalab are proud to be currently working on a series of large format prints that we will be delivering at the end of the week to Newcastle United Football Club. Well done to NUFC for being the first Barclays Premier League club to endorse this wonderful photographic project which began during the World Cup in Soweto in 2010.
Here is some further information about the project and touring exhibition, please read on while I go and get on with the prints!
Talented South African youngsters are celebrated in the UK by Premier League football club
Wembley to Soweto, the acclaimed international photographic exhibition created in South Africa, will be hosted by an English Premier League football club this week as a way of celebrating talent and recognising that youngsters need to be offered opportunities and support in order to change their lives and positively contribute to society.
On April 1st Newcastle United Football Club (NUFC) will be the first club from the Barclays Premier League to endorse Wembley to Soweto, the project that began with disadvantaged teenagers from Johannesburg, and took place against the backdrop of the World Cup in Soweto in 2010.
Through the project professional photographic training and life-skills are given to disadvantaged youngsters in order for them to move their own lives forward and ultimately, make a positive contribution to the community in which they live.
A banner showcasing the project will be displayed on the centre circle of the pitch, as well as images hung around the stadium to mark NUFC’s support of this project and celebrate 100 years of the ANC. Earlier this week, several of their first team players – including Shola Ameobi, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Cheik Tiote gave their support through interviews and signings.
Already supported by celebrities from the world of film and television, leading media figures and renowned politicians, including the Mandela family, Wembley to Soweto is an extraordinary example of the difference a picture can make.
“There’s no better way to communicate across cultures than with an image that takes your breath away…..one photo can change a life. The ‘Wembley to Soweto’ kids are an example of that,” commented Kweku Mandela.
Under the guidance of actor and producer David Westhead, founder of Wilton Pictures, the 8 teenagers from the Umuzi Photo Club in Johannesburg, were trained to use a camera in less than 5 weeks by international photographer John Cole. The aim of the project was to ‘feed a family with a camera’ and afforded the youngsters a chance to gain confidence and experience as well as build a career.
Westhead said: “It’s been hugely satisfying to see the difference that can be made with a relatively small budget but lots of hard work and dedication. ‘Wembley to Soweto’ was originally funded by a handful of individuals who believe, like me, that ‘an ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.’
To be honest, when John Cole and I set out to run the course, we hoped a couple of the students might make a few quid taking wedding photos and the like but the fact they are now working for the United Nations, the government, and taking portraits of some of the world’s best-known actors shows what can be achieved by talented youngsters with a determination to have their voices heard.”
Three of the photographers were recently afforded the opportunity to come to the UK to not only attend their own London exhibition but to work with the Tutu Foundation and share their experiences with other disadvantaged youngsters from London’s East End. Subsequently they were invited to the charity gala of the Harry Potter premiere in London, to photograph both Professor Green in concert at Somerset House and Hugh Masekela and his band at the Hackney Empire, asked to photograph numerous celebrities – including Alan Rickman, Richard E Grant, Emily Watson, Tamzin Outhwaite, Tamsin Greig, Gina McKee and Bill Nighy – as well as attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace!
One of the photographers, Tshepang Masemola – 17 years old – said of the project: “I really wish and hope that ‘Wembley to Soweto’ can be a big tree that grows a lot of branches to let the world know about photography and how what we experience in our everyday lives can be interpreted through pictures. I have learned that I have to persevere in terms of any hardship I come across. Instead of just sitting down and waiting for help, I need to go out there and do it myself.”
The Wembley to Soweto exhibition is also now embarking on a UK-wide tour and teaching programmes are being initiated in regions where youngsters, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend photographic courses, can learn how to take pictures that tell their stories as well as be offered the opportunity to ‘build a career with a camera.’
Actor Bill Nighy, added: “This project is exemplary. It’s beautiful. It’s simple and it’s necessary.”
Jill Roe of Digitalab, the professional photo lab in Newcastle with whom Wilton Pictures are working said, “Whoever came up with the idea of using photography to help disadvantaged kids not only help feed their families but also learn a lifelong skill which gives confidence and focus, is a genius. We have been passionate about the production of quality photographic images for over half a century and have worked with many international companies but have never worked on such a diverse and exciting project like ‘Wembley to Soweto’.
We feel privileged to even play a small part in helping showcase these youngsters’ talent and demonstrate what incredible results can be achieved when opportunity presents itself.”
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