An Interview with Sheffield Young Makers

The ‘Young Makers’ work experience program saw a group of 14-25 year olds create, collaborate, and curate an exhibit for Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield centred around a de-commissioned telephone box. This interview was conducted with two of the participants, Emily and Eleanor. They share their thoughts on not only the program as a whole, but also working with like-minded young people.

Q: How did you find the creative process as a whole – from brainstorming ideas for the telephone box to thinking other aspects such as the marketing and safety of the exhibit?

Emily: I found the creative process really eye opening – as there is so much more to think of than just the design of the curated space. For me, it hadn’t crossed my mind that safeguarding, safety and spatial awareness even needed to be considered, so this was an exciting challenge to take on. Because of these aspects, I felt the process was much more inclusive, thoughtful and accessible, and allowed us to really tackle the brief as a team to make sure it was something we really felt reflected us as a group of likeminded young people.

Eleanor: The whole process was incredibly engaging, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The creative process itself was very relaxed and stress-free, with every week being enjoyable to attend. Having different guest speakers in every week additionally really improved the experience for me as what they brought to each session got everyone thinking of fresh ideas, so new ideas were constantly being discussed. The attention to accessibility and safety also really impressed me as this is overlooked sometimes by creative processes, so the attention given to make sure the proposal was accessible for those with dyslexia to making it safe and comfortable for neurodivergent people made me very happy.

Image of a group of young people near the telephone box at Kelham Island.
Young Makers doing an in-person visit to the de-commissioned telephone box.

Q: Is there anything you would have changed or done differently?

Emily: No, I feel really proud of the ideas we came to as a group. I think everyone shared the same core beliefs that we wanted the project to be inclusive, accessible and timeless. That meant that it was really easy to work in collaboration and reach the same conclusion as we shared those values. It was also really interesting and rewarding hearing other people’s ideas and suggestions as many of them are things I would never have thought of myself.

Eleanor: No there isn’t, the final proposal that we all came up with encompasses all the ideas we had from the very start in a smart and inclusive way. In my opinion, the rotating exhibition for the telephone box was the best thing we could have created because it provides continual content that is constantly evolving.

Computer Aided Design of the telephone box with the group's idea of an interactive screen.
Computer Aided Design of Young Makers plans for the telephone box, depicting an interactive screen and information boards.

Q: How did you find working as a part of a group of young people? What are your thoughts on the amount of independence and support given to the group by Sheffield Museums?

Emily: Everyone was incredibly respectful and considerate and allowed the space where people were able to share their ideas and thoughts freely. I think especially in a time where we could only meet over Zoom, I was pleasantly surprised with how well everyone worked in collaboration. I also think Brooke, Graham and Joy provided so much support and encouragement for everyone’s ideas. I personally found it really helpful actually visiting the museum with some of the group who could make it as it brought the project to life and the team were incredibly accommodating and helpful

Eleanor: The group I was a part of were incredibly considerate of everyone and absolute pleasure to work with. Everyone was very like-minded making it easy for us to formulate concepts and ideas for the phone box exhibition as well as just getting along. The staff at Sheffield Museums were also wonderful and gave us the right amount of autonomy when making decisions and setting up work between the team members. They were extremely supportive and accommodating, doing everything they could to assist us in our creative process.

Run by Sheffield Museums Trust in partnership with Ignite Yorkshire.