Photos: Teenagers curate star-studded exhibition paying homage to Camden’s most famous residents

PUBLISHED: 15:07 13 July 2015 | UPDATED: 19:16 13 July 2015

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Picture: Spencer Murphy

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Picture: Spencer Murphy


Teenagers have helped to curate a star-studded exhibition celebrating Camden and some of its most famous residents at the world-renowned National Portrait Gallery.

A Haverstock School pupil in one of the six images taken by photographer Kate Peters for the National Portrait Gallery exhibition celebrating Camden residentsA Haverstock School pupil in one of the six images taken by photographer Kate Peters for the National Portrait Gallery exhibition celebrating Camden residents

Six striking, abstract images of teenagers subtly pay homage to Camden’s most famous residents in a star-studded exhibition at the world-renowned National Portrait Gallery.

Pupils at Haverstock School in Chalk Farm worked with a professional photographer for the best part of a year to create a photographic show dedicated to celebrating the people of Camden.

The exhibition, which opened on Friday, features 30 portraits chosen by students of notable Camden figures, from the late Camden Town singer Amy Winehouse to Dartmouth Park residents actor Benedict Cumberbatch and former Labour leader Ed Miliband.

But also on show are six new photographs taken by Kate Peters of Haverstock Year 10 pupils wearing a variety of outlandish props emblematic of some of the borough’s famous folk.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband. Picture: National Portrait GalleryFormer Labour leader Ed Miliband. Picture: National Portrait Gallery

One is of a pupil wearing gothic-style accessories to symbolise Belsize Park actress Helena Bonham-Carter. Another shows a student adorned with wooden cut-out shapes, including two teeth on her knees to represent White Teeth author and former Hampstead School pupil Zadie Smith.

Student Samiah Jasmin, 15, of Chalk Farm said: “If you told someone that you had work in the National Portrait Gallery, they would never believe you.

“People have to work really hard to get in there. It’s a real accomplishment.”

Classmate Nathan Ford, 15, of Euston, added: “It feels like a great opportunity to see our work in such a remarkable place.”

Playwright Alan Bennett. Spencer MurphyPlaywright Alan Bennett. Spencer Murphy

The exhibition forms part of the National Portrait Gallery’s four-year Creative Connections project to connect young people with contemporary artists to create new works.

The team has already worked with schools in Tower Hamlets and Ealing but is this year focusing on Camden.

After selecting Haverstock last year, they set up a series of six workshops at which pupils collaborated with Ms Peters to come up with ideas for new photographic works for the Creative Connections: Camden Radicals show.

The result is the six images of pupils, as well as Polaroids and photograms from their workshops, which hang alongside dozens of celebrity portraits from the prestigious gallery’s existing collection.

Samiah said: “Taking a photograph is really easy but I didn’t know how complicated it was to make a good picture.”

Ms Coward said: “Working with Kate and her team will not only have a direct impact on our students’ attainment, knowledge and confidence, but it has also enabled us to promote art and photography in a climate where currently creative subjects are sidelined.”

The show runs at the National Portrait Gallery in central London until October 11.

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