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All Dressed Up by Karen Robinson exhibition text

All Dressed Up by Karen Robinson exhibition text

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Published by Kerry Side-Gallery
The Lives of Teenage Girls in East Durham
by Karen Robinson

Exhibited at Side Gallery 16.06.12 - 11.08.12
The Lives of Teenage Girls in East Durham
by Karen Robinson

Exhibited at Side Gallery 16.06.12 - 11.08.12

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Kerry Side-Gallery on Jun 01, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Each group of girls had a special place to which they would always go. At rst they thought it was strange that I wanted to photograph their lives, but then, maybe, it was something a bit different; maybe they liked someone taking a bit of notice. I loved their sense of humour, was shocked at times by their innocence, at others by their knowledge and by the experiences they have had to deal with.One of the girls, in trouble with the police for drugs and in care for a time, was three months pregnant when I rst met her, standing in shock and disbelief, not sure who the father was. I later watched her lovingly feed her daughter and listened to adults talking about how much she had grown up. The girls opened up a glimpse into their lives in all their contradictions and complexities: at home, on the streets, following interests, out on the town... And there was the American style school prom,choosing dresses, having their hair and make-up done and badgering their teacher to let me come too.
Karen Robinson
By approaching, listening to and engaging with teenage girls who regularly hung around the streetsof various villages and towns of East Durham, Karen Robinson was able to gain a personal insightinto their world during 2004-05.Lack of opportunities and investment has meant that signicant numbers of young people in thearea were and still are ‘slipping through the net’. Failed by the educational system, in communitiesravaged by the demise of heavy industry, their own aspirations can often seem unrealistic. Accessto the support mechanisms which might improve their situation is often beyond reach. At the time,Easington District had one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country.Karen Robinson’s All Dressed Up’ was part of Coaleld Stories, a programme of Side Gallerycommissions which ran from 1999 - 2006.
The Lives of Teenage Girls in East DurhamKaren Robinson | 16.06.12 - 11.08.12
9 SIDE | NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE | NE1 3JE | 0191 232 2208 | TUES - SAT: 11AM-5PM | THURS 11AM-7PM | FREE
In the square where I used to live it used to be brilliant. Everyone used to come out playing KnickyKnocky Nine Doors. Oh, it used to be mint. It started going horrible when I was about 10. I gotsexually abused. I didn’t come out with it until last year when I fell pregnant with Faith and it didn’tget any further with the police because I didn’t give enough evidence, so it was shit, that bit.It’s as if he put a bad spirit in us and turned me evil. I won’t lie, you may as well call us the child fromHell, I was that bad. I turned me whole family against me. I had no one apart from two of me friends,Claire and Melissa. I was about 12 when I started skiving school, being cocky to the teachers. I gotkicked out of Welleld and I went to Shotton Hall. I was only there for a couple of weeks, because Iwas getting bullied. I was on drugs – cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, I wasn’t on smack. I used torun away up to Stockton. I was put into care because I was thieving off me mam to feed me habit. Igot moved to a proper foster home. One night, the husband came into the bedroom, just standing inme door, staring at us. I just hid under the covers. I’ve never been so frightened in me life. I thoughtit was a ghost at rst. Then he was, ‘Oh, sorry. I thought it was the toilet.’I didn’t do any GCSEs. I felt thick as anything, even though I am quite brainy when I want. But somepeople don’t know the half of what I’ve been through. I woke up one day and me mum goes, ‘Haveyou started your monthlies?’ I goes, ‘Mum, I haven’t been on for ages.’ She goes, ‘Right, take a weesample up to the chemist.’ So I went up and I was waiting and Julie said come through to the backand she goes, ‘Yes,’ and I just fell to the oor. I just went, ‘Oh no!’ and I was crying me eyes out. Memum goes, ‘Are you?’ and I goes, ‘Aye,’ and she goes, ‘Don’t worry, pet, I had one at your age, you’llbe ne.’ I sat down and I was thinking to myself, ‘Right, I’ve got to change and I will change. I’m goingto have a beautiful baby. I’ve got to do everything right from now on.’ I went to bed and I woke up thenext morning and I just felt brand new.Things have been better with me mum and dad since I had Faith. Me mam’s probably not speaking tous since she found out I’m pregnant again. People’ll say, ‘Oh you’re stupid, you’ve already ruined yourlife. You’re going to ruin your life twice, double, now.’ I’m not bothered. I cannot wait to breastfeed,me. Get big boobs and wear them big, massive bras. When I told Dean last night, he was just, ‘Oh no!’Then he goes, ‘Well, at least I’m not ring blanks!’ I goes, ‘What do you want to call it if it’s a boy?’He goes, ‘Mini Dean.’
What would you change about your life?
Nothing at the moment, because it’s all too perfect. Hopefully, I’ll go back to school in September.
What are your dreams?
I want a horse. I’d love a horse, so our Faith and the other baby can be horse riders when theyare older. I’ll take her horse riding and dancing and gymnastics and stuff like that, so she can dosomething good with her life instead of just lounging about like all of us arseholes.
What is the best thing about your life?
The best thing in my life is the people in my life, my family and closest friends. I’d be a very lonelygirl without them. I just feel like I could do more or them. I would rather people put owers on mygrave, instead of forgetting me – sounds quite depressing, but it’s true.
What is the worst thing about your life?
The relationship with my mother. And this is something that will never really be xed. She lives inSpain and she’s out of the way. People say we are too much alike and that’s why we argue. I don’t seeit like that. To have a relationship like I have with my dad would be great, but I don’t see it happening,so I just forget about it.
What would you change about your life, if anything?
The way I think and handle things. I don’t think about consequences. I got kicked out of college, Ihaven’t got a job and I smoke a lot of dope. The drug thing, I would denitely change. I wasted thelast three years of my life.
What has been the most important thing that has happened to you?
The most important thing to me is the fact of always having a home to go to. I’ve moved to Spain,lived in Durham and was always able to come home to my dad. Even on a Friday night, being wreckedand staying out late. If I couldn’t go home, I’d be on the streets.
What do you like/dislike about your town?
Like: Everyone likes being in a place where they know everyone and know where everything is andthat’s what Seaham is like. You go down to the harbour on a night and it’s like a big party, but outside.Dislike: Well, have you seen the clip of Seaham?
What is your dream?
I don’t have dreams or goals, you only get disappointment. There are people who go to college andwork hard to get what they want. I take things as they come. It’s a lot easier. No one can predict whattheir life is going to be. I didn’t think I would be who I am today. I don’t want to be the person I am,but you don’t plan your life.
How have your parents inuenced you?
I am who I am, deep inside, because of them.
What do you hope for your children?
I don’t really want kids, but if I did, I would hope they were always smiling, no matter what, and gofor what they want. You only live once and I’ve messed up the rst part of my life and it’s the rst partthat is the most important.

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