Meet the RoadTrip Artists part 4 – Chris Charles





‘Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain…….’

Whether it rains, or we dance or both – an exciting week of social and cultural exploration will be led by artist Chris Charles.

As an experienced photographer and documentary film maker I am passionate about working from within and alongside communities. This comes from understanding that the true experts regarding the challenges community’s face are the community’s themselves and the people that they are built on. Over the week I will explore with island residents and visitors, the people, the places and “What do you think is Guernsey’s Cultural Identity?”

Over the past twenty years I have made films and had photography exhibitions covering such diverse areas as the many faces of community, offenders  – inside and outside prison, cultural diversity, identity, asylum seekers and refugees, mental health and disability, homelessness and substance abuse.’

‘I hope to give expression to individuals and groups that normally struggle to be heard…sometimes words just don’t say what an image evokes’.

During my time in residence at The Lowry – Salford I created ‘Salford Born’ – a community cohesion project that addressed the challenges faced by the “invisible” Muslim communities of Salford. The project explored cultural identity and heritage through a mix of traditional and modern art forms culminating in an open mic debate that covered many challenging topics in a respectful and honest way across communities.

I am currently the head of Creative Development at the Men’s Room Manchester where previously as a lead artist, working together with the young men, I filmed and produced a powerful 20-minute documentary entitled “Same S**t Different Day’. This film explores the reasons young men become street homeless and showcased at the Corner house Cinema in Manchester. Following this was the ‘Survival Season,’ where the young men created a survival guide to Manchester, which included personal accounts and gritty urban photography in book form.

Meet the Somalis was a three-year process that allowed me to immerse myself in the community of Mosside, the area that I grew up in. This culminated in a year-long Heritage Lottery funded project that produced an exhibition, a book and live performance that presented the cultural heritage of the Somali community of Manchester to the wider Manchester audience at Urbis and the Zion Centre.

Whilst working on the Somali project I was also working in partnership back in Salford. “You Are What You Watch”, a 12-month film project involving many Muslim communities, produced a powerful social documentary. The starting point and driving force behind this film was a group of young Muslim women and men from Eccles. In the film the young people were able to explore the issues that were of concern to them, which included the negative media representation of the Muslim community, and how they saw the future for the next generation of Muslims living in Salford. This project brought a partnership of service providers together and allowed the community to speak openly about the support they need.

Who knows where this week might lead to or what talent will be discovered here in Guernsey!!

I am excited to meet and work with everyone that wants to get involved and via imagery and words we will “Respect Our Past, Challenge Our Present and Share Our Future”.

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