‘Would you rather look at a blank wall or something that stands out?‘
With youth clubs constantly facing cuts or closure, Jon met up with Bristol-based artist and musician Peter Tubey (aged 21) to find out how these youth centres have changed his life and provided him with incredible opportunities.
When I asked Peter if he wanted to meet up for a chat I wasn’t expecting to be faced with such a compelling tale of determination. Being completely honest, I met him with my own preconceptions of youth clubs – places that I’d never actually been to while I was considered a youth, perhaps because of the word youth itself – thinking that I would be leaving in the same mindset, but I was about to be challenged.
I’d seen Peter’s artwork on his website (believe me, there’s a lot of it) and I was fascinated in how he uses various objects as a surface for expression, often sticking them to a canvas and then spraying or throwing paint over the whole thing.
I asked Peter about his artwork and he explained how his practice has evolved throughout the courses he has taken, including college and later the Prince’s Trust. We talked about how he uses found materials that often become symbolic within the piece of art he is creating, as well as his influences – Banksy being the most prevalent.
The Bristol-born master of graffiti has had a clear effect on Peter’s way of working creatively, with the young artist really thinking about what he wants his art to say to his viewers. He asked me if I’d rather look at a blank wall or something that stands out (a pretty valid question), and then continued into the differences between graffiti and ‘tagging’. However, as much as I tried to ask him about his own work it became clear that he really wanted to talk to me about something else: youth clubs.
Peter explained how he has been a part of youth-orientated organisations for years and that they’re about:
‘giving people an opportunity… perhaps for people who cant read or write, or people who walked out of college.’
He’s spent a lot of time in youth clubs growing up, and he knows how young people feel; he’s in the perfect position to talk about the importance of youth engagement and how necessary it is. Peter hasn’t let his disability affect his journey through life, but some young people aren’t as determined and require that extra push (let’s face it, we all do at some point, right?) from a youth worker, which you’re most likely to find at a youth club.
As you might imagine, he’s now also their biggest advocate:
‘If you don’t have a youth club there you’re going to have more people on the street…[they] provided me with somewhere to go…and gave me networks… It’s very important for people to have that opportunity and if it’s not there then what will be?’
Peter poses an important question, with council cuts frequently affecting youth clubs nationally as well as in our own city. He does, however, have grand plans to get his point across.
‘I want to do a protest, with all the youth clubs in the region, leading up to the [council] building and say why they’re there’
As a previous member of the Youth Parliament Peter is no stranger to how politics work and how action sometimes requires getting people together to make a point. His protest is still – at the moment – just an idea, but having listened to him describe his intentions I have no doubts that it will happen, and he’ll have a lot of equally passionate people behind him.
When I asked Peter if he could see himself doing youth work in the future he paused, before replying with:
‘I just want to give them a ladder, does that make sense?’
Have you ever been to a youth club? Let us know on Twitter @Rifemag or on our Facebook page. If you want to get in contact with Peter about his protest idea then talk to him via the contact page on his website.