Hello Portsmouth home ed people

Hi all,

I thought this may be an easier way to communicate my ideas to you all (I said this to Rahel when we met weeks ago … so much for it being quicker ! 🙂 oops )

Some of you may of seen my posts on the action group , and I believe Rahel has given you a bit of a run through possibly of what my ideas are for a project.

First off I’ll explain who I am and what I am doing . My name is Bekkie, I live in Cornwall, and together with my husband, we home educate our (was four, one went off to uni *SOB* & *EXCITING* at the same time!) three children. We started home ed’ing 7 years ago when our youngest was 4/5 and our eldest was 12 , after trying the lets work at the kitchen table for a bit at the start, we have pretty much been unschooling/autonomous/child-led see-what-they-fancy-sometimes-worldschooling, for 80% of the children’s home ed years, with 10% being please do some maths and english because I am having a panicked day , followed by 10% our kids opting to do GCSE’s and A-levels over short time frames. Basically we are a huge big mix of everything. We appear to have (at the moment who knows how it will change in the future) one artist, one scientist, one animal lover and one ‘I want to always stay at home with you and build video games mum’ .

For some inexplicable reason (darn that home ed for making me love education 🙂 ) , I decided two years ago that I was going to do an MA in photography. I had been a photographer for ten years but wanted the ‘space’ to create a project on what was meant to be alternative education as a whole, but due to the size of the undertaking (and my total underestimate of how long it would take), and Covid restrictions, quickly became a project focused more on home-education, and decided the MA was the best way to do this.

Over two years I have created a project called ‘A Heuristic Interlude’ which looked at five families considering continuing home educating after the schools reopened post lockdown. ‘Heuristic spaces’ which followed 18 home educating families in Cornwall, looking at the many viable ways that people home educated, juxtaposing through audio recordings the media rhetoric of home-educating being a safe guarding concern , against imagery that shows the beauty, love, commitment and strength of what we do . The final chapter is entitled ‘The Heutagogical Home’ and consists of around 80 images taken during the 2 year period of my own family, showing an indepth look into what home-education can look like for one family.

These projects have been in a couple of exhibitions already, have won an open call, I have been invited to do two exhibitions this summer (one in Cornwall and one in Birmingham) and I have been featured on the radio and on tv.

When I started reading on the groups about what you were all going through, I wanted to support you (I gave £5 woohoo lol) but I didn’t really know what I could do .

Then I started thinking about how I could help you all, how I could help all of us , using my art.

My idea, which I chatted through with Rahel a few weeks ago, was to create a small book visualising what you have been through, and what has happened, to sell to the community and locally to raise money.

I would come to you all 1/2/3 times (when we are all happy that it is safe to do so… I have 5 weeks left of my MA and don’t get my 2nd vaccine till mid may so kind of June/July onwards) during these visits, I would talk to you all, to get a deeper understanding of the issues you have all faced (I know that I KNOW what has happened, but I mean really, what you want to say, what YOU all want people to know) and use extracts for these conversations on one page, set against an image to illustrate each family on the opposite page . I have ideas of the photography ranging from portraits of the parents, to photos of your front door, or inside your homes, or photographs of somewhere special to your family, or maybe even just still-life style shots of something within your home, maybe a book, or piece of art your child has done, or lego they have built, I don’t really know if I am honest, I am totally open to how we do it. What is MOST important to me, is that it is a collaboration, that you all have a say in how you would like the story told, what images you all like (it may be you all want your whole families in them and thats totally fine if so, but I didn’t want you to all feel we had to do that, in a way to me it makes more sense not to have the families in them, to show this can happen to anyone what you have all faced) …. but I am open to how you would all like to tell the story, and if you don’t know I can mock up 2/3 ways of doing it and you can choose what you are all happy with. Alongside these once everything is released from court and open I would like to look at using any parts of the documents I can that do not compromise privacy to try and contextualise more what you were all attempting to show and what the JR is about, maybe alongside images of the newspaper/media pieces as well, it just depends really on what is available and what feels right at the time.

As a thankyou for taking part you would all get a free family portrait. I will not be using this image for anything , it is merely a thankyou for sharing your story, if by any chance I take an image that I think wow that is brilliant I want to use that in my wider project, I will ask, you will have full veto, and if you don’t want me too , I wouldn’t ask again, and would never use it. It would just be for you. I have given free images to everyone in the project so far as I am aware of what a huge trust it is you all put in me, and it is nice to give something back.

For everyone who has been in my project so far they have signed two consent forms, one for me to go and take photographs first of all, and then a second one when I have chosen what image/images/film/audio (all my projects are very different in delivery) I wish to use, and then they sign again to say they are happy with me using what I have chosen, or not if they don’t want too. Out of around 40 families so far I have only had one family ask me not to use one image I took of their family I took (they had a personal reason for not using this one but were more than happy for me to use any of the others), obviously I respected this, deleted the image and no one has ever seen it, I would offer this level of collaboration to everyone who took part in this project, as it is super important to me that you are all comfortable with it after what you have all been through.

With regards to the book, I thought I would pay for them to be printed, and then we could sell them cheaply (I am talking £4/£5/£6 each depending on print cost) , I will then use the money to pay for the printing and anything else that comes from them will go into either your legal fund if you need more, or if not the wider legal fund that I believe is being started. I don’t want to make any money out of this, I want to try and help your community, our community, and show what it is our community faces.

Any questions you can email me at info@bambino-art.co.uk or message me on facebook @Bekkie_Graham and we can chat more.

Have a look through the website at some of the work I have done so far on home ed, so you can get an idea for the kinds of images I take, and stories I am telling, and we can chat more maybe in a couple of weeks or so, after you have all had time to read and digest it all a bit and chat between yourselves how you feel about it ?

Bekkie xoxo

Here’s a awkward photo someone took of us on holiday just so you can see who we are and I am 🙂

This blog is written as part of my studies on the Falmouth University photography ma, an accredited educational programme.