Leading the way at Science Gallery London

By Esther Lie

Some of the most powerful work is made by people whose voices are less present in the mainstream. The first group of Science Gallery London Young Leaders are eight young people who represent the incredible talent and diversity of our city. Over the past eighteen months they’ve been working to shape programming at the Gallery, coming on board even before the building was open to the public!

A group of young people smiling, lining up behind each other

As part of King’s College London, Science Gallery London aims to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers by bringing together artists, researchers, students and local communities. As students and young creatives themselves, the Young Leaders ensure that our work resonates with our key audience of 15-25 year olds.

From designing events as part of exhibition seasons to speaking on high-profile panels, the first group of Young Leaders have taken ownership of many projects that reflect their unique talents and interests, as well as receiving training and mentoring.

I want to take this opportunity to celebrate the sheer range of achievements that the 2018-19 group have under their belts in their first year.

An upside down picture of a woman's face against a black background. White feathers falling partially cover the left half of her face

Filmmaker and King's neuroscience graduate Bella Spencer embraced her role as Creative Director on a short film inspired by and starring her fellow Young Leaders. ‘Uncertainty’ was screened at the BFI as part of their Future Film programme in August 2019.

Bella explains: “the Young Leaders programme has been an invaluable opportunity to work with like-minded young people and industry experts. These relationships have given me the chance to take part in ambitious projects that have developed my skills in event production, exhibition curation and film production.”

A woman wearing a black t-shirt with black braided hair looks to her right. Int he foreground, another young person in a grey top leans forward, their hand over thei rmouth

Angela Wereko-Anderson proposed a manifesto for diversity to the Global Science Gallery Network Directors Forum. She also presented on this theme at the Young Londoners’ Participation Network at City Hall, sharing her experience as a young black woman in London who is deeply engaged with culture and art. With this in mind, Angela hopes that Science Gallery London will champion new and exciting projects at the intersection of cutting-edge scientific research and future-facing art, whilst keeping diversity at its heart. 

A young man raps into a microphone, right hand held in front of him. He is wearing a blue shirt with hair drawn back into a bun. He is in teh spotlight, with a person playing the flute silhouetted to his left

Trainee psychiatrist and musician Mandeep Singh has taken to the mic several times over the past year, sharing his infectious passion for music and science. Most recently, Mandeep led an experimental rap workshop with 50 young people from across the global Science Gallery network, and MCd at student events for the King’s College London Cultural Community.

"First and foremost, the programme offers unrivalled access to professional networks which would otherwise be far out of reach until years into my career”, he explains. “The friendships formed have already proven to be professionally - and of course, personally - extremely fruitful. Several of us are collaborating on our own projects away from the Gallery. This is key because the tribe of science/art lovers is hard to find. The programme put them in one place and supported the growth together… I have never before felt so confident in my ability to lead and to instil change.

“[Being a Young Leader] leaves me with a firm, deep-rooted conviction that I can go out and venture into nascent, barely formed areas of human curiosity and that I will be okay, supported and enriched.”

A young man with dark hair closes his eyes as confetti rains down in front of ihm

Starting university as a fashion design student, Dharyl Usina shaped a forthcoming season exploring gender by working on community groups consultations including with a local LGBTQ+ youth group, and with curator Helen Kaplinsky. Dharyl also got to grips with the mysterious topic of dark matter, interviewing Malcolm Fairbairn, Professor of Physics at King’s College London, as part of a DARK MATTER Friday Late event.

Dharyl says: "Being part of the Young Leaders has allowed to me to identify the scope of innovation within my own design ideas and practices, to recognise my potential beyond fashion design, and to develop a lasting relationship with great intellectual and creative young people " 

A woman with afro hair sits on a chair, holding a microphone in her right hand. To her right sits a young man wearing a yellow shirt and purple jacket. He has a beard and hair pulled back into a bun

Laura-Joy Pieters is a Chemistry MSc graduate and stage and film actress, passionate about the representation of science in the performing arts. She proposed the idea for a short film exploring women in science, with Vera Rubin, who first discovered dark matter, as the main inspiration. The film is currently in post-production. Laura also chaired a panel exploring co-creation with her fellow Young Leaders at the 2019 Science Gallery Youth Symposium in London.

A woman reaches to put a post-it note on a white wall. She is wearing a white top and has bobbed brown hair

For a forthcoming season exploring gender, Elly Magson advised the curator, Helen, on the open call and narrative development, and was involved in consultations with local youth groups. With her fine-tuned skills in developing exhibitions in the museum sector, Elly has helped to shape how we talk about the artworks and exhibitions for our target audience at Science Gallery London.

Two people sitting down - a woman with shoulder length brown hair stretches out her left hand, while a person with short cropped hair looks at her while she speaks

Designer Stacie Woolsey advocated for alternative education on a panel at the first global Science Gallery Youth Symposium in Dublin in 2018. Stacie has spent the past year designing her own Masters programme and says: “Science Gallery has given me the greatest insight into the inner workings of a gallery and a space to share my opinions. I've had the opportunity to be part of a really exciting and diverse group to work on projects we are all passionate about, making connections I will value for the rest of my career.”

A man behind a DJ booth, with two people dancing in front of it

Richard Dixon has brought the experiences of visitors to his position as a Young Leader, drawing on his role as our Senior Front of House Assistant. A skilled photographer and DJ in his spare time, Richard has applied his talents at various Science Gallery events, most recently with a floor-filling set at our DARK MATTER Friday Late!

 “The Young Leaders programme has given me detailed insight and hands on experience in programming and back of house functions of a cultural institute,” Richard says.

“Programming the first Late event allowed me to tap into my connections and collaborate with my peers and other young people. It has allowed me to work and improve on skills that I believe will only aid my professional career such as public speaking and leadership skills. Whilst doing so, I also have had the opportunity to DJ for the first time.”


Esther Lie is Community Engagement Manager at Science Gallery London.