WELD Carnival 1979

This set of pictures is from the WELD Carnival in 1979. WELD (Westminster Endeavour for Liaison and Development) was a community project set up in1968 by two teachers from a Primary School in Handsworth, Birmingham. Their idea was to provide support, resources and opportunities to young people – opportunities that they would not otherwise get.

WELD was the first such organisation in the UK to employ a community photographer. Colin Cuthbert was the first and he was followed by Jon Stewart, who is seen in these pictures with a camera slung from his neck.

Colin studied at the famed photography course at Dorrington Road with John Reardon, who Derek Bishton and I had first met working on Grapevine Magazine earlier in the 1970s. So we got to know WELD at that time. Later, Derek moved into a house just across the road from the project and by 1979 Derek, John and I shared an office in Grove Lane, a mile or so away, where we ran the design and photography agency Sidelines.

Later in 1979, Derek, John and I created the Handsworth Self Portrait Project and, with others, founded Ten.8 Photography Magazine. Then, when Jon left WELD in at the end of 1980, Sidelines ran the community photography project for six months or so until a permanent replacement was recruited.

As well as WELD staff and friends, these photographs show several people who took part in the photography project, including Sharon Smith and Pauline Weir. The images give a flavour of the project and its rather anarchic (in a good way) approach, where art was used to give young people a vision of the possibilities beyond the confines of the inner city.

WELD closed its doors in the early 90s, and so ended a positive example of cross-cultural community action which had photography at its centre.

Brian Homer April 2019

This text is from the Cafe Royal book of some of these pictures published in 2019 – see here.