IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


How many pathways can a life take? Exploring the experiences of London youth

7 May 2024

Professor Louise Archer, together with artist Maxi Himpe, collaborated on a documentary theatre piece featured in Field Works: a Trellis exhibition last month.

Two girls standing on a chair on each side of the photo. The light casts a blue tint. There is a microphone between the girls. Credit: Yolanda Hadjidemetriou.

The theatre piece explored the complex experiences of young people in East London, the state of the education system, and the many paths a life can take. Performed at Hoxton Hall at the end of March, photography from the rehearsal and planning stages was featured in the Field Works exhibition. 

Its script was based on interviews with a cohort of young people from East London beginning in 2010, when they were in primary school, and ending in 2022. It also involved consultations with two cohorts of Year 12 students in East London.

Two girls on either side of a door. There is a microphone in front of each of them. Credit: Yolanda Hadjidemetriou.

The piece includes the voices, ideas and political insights of these participants, their thoughts around art and their experiences attending school in East London.

Professor Louise Archer is the Karl Mannheim Chair of Sociology of Education at IOE. Her research looks at educational identities and inequalities, and inequalities in science participation. She currently leads the ASPIRES project, a longitudinal research study following young people’s career aspirations from age 10 to 23.

Two girls clasping hands raised over their heads. They are on a stage. Credit: Yolanda Hadjidemetriou.

The Field Works exhibition ran from 16 March to 1 April 2024, constituting six artworks stemming from collaborations between artists, UCL researchers, and communities in East London. Its themes interacted with ideas around power, inequality, and inclusion in urban spaces.

The exhibition itself is part of Trellis programme, which aims to build cultural and community engagement around the new UCL campus to foster collaboration between UCL and the local community.

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Yolanda Hadjidemetriou.