S.M.I.L.Eing Boys art revealed at Brixton Village

South London venue playing host to a powerful installation made up of portraits of some of the young boys

The S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys Project seeks to empower young black boys through creative workshops

A BRAND new installation across Market Row has been unveiled in Brixton Village.

S.M.I.L.Eing Boys Project – the research-led initiative with a mission to empower young black boys through poetry, photography, and immersive art projects – revealed the works today,

Uncovering the truths, realities, and growth of these young boys throughout the project, the exhibition will see Brixton Village adorned with a market-wide installation of portrait flags.

SMILEing Boys Project – Group Shot

Providing visitors with an opportunity to understand and engage with the realities of these young people, the 12-week installation will showcase a series of photo portraits projected onto 25 flags throughout Brixton Village. The public project aims to offer a platform for participants to celebrate their work and achievements, help boost their self-esteem, and share important learnings from the project.

Spearheaded by interdisciplinary artist Kay Rufai and funded by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council and in Brixton by Hondo Enterprises, the S.M.I.L.Eing Boys Project was born as a public health response to the rise in youth stabbings in London that sparked a series of government measures leading to tougher criminalisation of youth, more stop and searches, and greater police presence in minority communities.

Through workshops, exhibitions, mentorship and field study, the initiative aims to empower BAME boys to develop emotional intelligence and best manage their mental health in positive ways through creative mediums and discussions.

The installation will form part of the wider partnership with Brixton Village and will see S.M.I.L.Eing Boys Project host a series of events throughout the year.

Project founder: Kay Rufai

Rufai, founder of the S.M.I.L.Eing Boys Project, said: “I am delighted to begin this partnership with Brixton Village as an opportunity to create a bridge between this demographic of boys from this community and the markets, through a series of events, talks and installations that aims to humanize and celebrate alternative narratives of black boys.”

Diana Nabagereka, General Manager of Brixton Village added: “We are thrilled to be partnering with S.M.I.L.Eing Boys Project and support such an important and empowering cause. The markets continue to serve as a hub that engages with different cultures and this partnership will hopefully encourage community- storytelling.

“Brixton Village is proud to be hosting a very accessible, public installation that strives to change social perceptions that we confront each day.”

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