Dear Gordon workshops

Neil Delete & Drew Copus ran three workshops at Hollington Youth Centre in partnership with their youth workers. The starting point was the Dear Gordon exhibition and we were originally planning a series of 8 workshops working with boys aged 11-15 exploring issues surrounding masculinity in contemporary society using ‘Dear Gordon’ artwork by Jonathan Cole.  We aimed to explore what it means to be male in contemporary society, by viewing notions of masculinity through the media i.e. lads’ mags, music videos, TV, newspapers, video games, pornography & illustrating the effects on boys’ self-esteem e.g. discouragement to show emotions/cry, links between violent images in film/video games & normalisation of violent behaviour/acting out. Together with a youth worker, they would explore these issues alongside two artists, who will help them to produce artworks expressing their feelings & views on the subject, to be exhibited at Claremont Studios.

The aims of the workshops were:

  • Building on young people’s (aged 11-24) interest in media and arts to develop youth influenced projects that explore social  and cultural issues beyond stereotypes
  • Harnessing and strengthening young people’s: critical thinking, group work, decision making, communication and technical art skills
  • Giving voice to young people in a manner that captures other young people’s and stakeholder attention, and fosters social and cultural cohesion and understanding
  • Widening access to arts and art spaces and enhancing the responsiveness of those spaces to young people
  • Reaching a targeted mixture of young people, including those that would benefit most from this provision e.g. disadvantaged young men
  • Empowering young people to make considered and informed decisions e.g. choice of language, career choices, relationship choices
  • Contribute to changing arts spaces and  equality and diversity debate

We learned a lot about the deep and difficult issues that young people face surrounding gender stereotyping & the media’s role in perpetuating these. While we had to shorten the number of sessions delivered, it was a very worthwhile experiment and the two subsequent aGender workshops in collaboration with Hastings Adventure Playground and Hastings Youth Council have been outstanding. For more information see:


Neil Delete stencil painting