For those of us too old to join it, the Society of Explorers is one of the most enviable clubs in town. The collective of 14-to-19-year-olds meet up every Wednesday evening over snacks at Site Gallery to chat, make and curate art. Now who wouldn’t want to get involved with that?
Collective is definitely the word for it, too. There are around 15 to 20 Explorers at any given time, but no hierarchy, no one person in charge. The society comes to decisions about its events and commissions democratically, pooling ideas and putting them to vote. Some of its members even played a role in their supervisor Peter Martin’s recruitment as Site’s Young People's Programme Producer (they tell me they planned to act super serious in Peter’s interview, ceremoniously shuffling papers on the desk in front of him – luckily they didn’t scare him off!).
The Society of Explorers are an integral part of Site; even during the gallery's refurbishment, they didn’t let its closure stop them from producing their exciting arts programme. Instead, they took art to the streets in their own customised van, and hosted their own lineup of acts and mini exhibitions in places like The Folk Forest.
We spoke to Explorers regulars Beth, Silas, George, Saffron and Jack to find out more about this curious, creative collective.
Update: Society of Explorers may not be able to meet in person but they are still meeting digitally and are currently working on a new edition of their zine Wet Paint. It contains a collection of their thoughts and reflections made collaboratively online. They're also helping to develop workshops and activities for young people for when Site Gallery reopens.
JOIN THE EXPLORERS!
Applications are open now to join the Society of Explorers in autumn 2020 – developing skills, sharing ideas, demystifying what an gallery is/who it’s for. Young people who live outside the city centre or who haven't accessed the gallery before are particularly encouraged to apply. Joint applications for friends welcome. Travel costs covered. See full details and get your applications in by 14 September.