Peek Inside Teenagers' Bedrooms At This New Exhibition

By Zoe Craig Last edited 17 months ago

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Peek Inside Teenagers' Bedrooms At This New Exhibition
Bedroom belonging to Shanah aged 18, North London

Pity the poor teens growing up in London today. The fast-moving modern world, both enriched and strangled by smart phones and social media, has created many different issues for those dealing with the challenges of adolescence.

But sometimes (only sometimes!), we can't help wishing photography had been a little more ubiquitous when we were young; it'd be great to look back at our carefully crafted teenage world via an Instagram channel or Facebook feed.

For those of us in our 30s and 40s, there are precious few documents of that time: we have to rely on our memories of beloved Take That/Trainspotting/Teri Hatcher posters fraying at the edges; scarves artfully draped over mirrors; plastic-y stereos, piles of mix tapes and vinyl; the heady scent of Exclamation, Lynx Africa or vanilla joss sticks in the air... nostalgia is a funny thing.

For some lucky teens today, their teenage realms have been documented not just by their smart phones, but for a new exhibition at the Geffrye Museum.

Detail of bedroom belonging to Pearl, aged 17, north London

Teenage Bedrooms is a small display, looking inside the homes of 26 London teenagers to explore the meaning and significance of contemporary teenage bedrooms.

Detail of bedroom belonging to Molly, aged 15, north London
Bedroom belonging to Sam, aged 15, north London

The show combines photographs, interviews, objects and an installation representing a teenager's bedroom to examine how identity, memory and friendship are expressed within these intense, private spaces.

Detail of bedroom belonging to Emily, aged 17, north London.

Within the family home, the teenage bedroom emerges as an intimate canvas and a space apart, described by one participant as 'like a house inside of a house'.

Bedroom belonging to Flo, aged 18, north London.

Curators at the Geffrye's new show have also interviewed the parents, asking them to reflect on their own remembered teenage bedrooms.

Detail of bedroom belonging to Zara, aged 16, north London.

One noticeable development is the recurrent mobile phone on a pillow or laptop on the duvet. Beds that used to be single are now often doubles, described as 'an island of comfort from which to connect and communicate'; very different from the static, public (and frequently overheard) phone in the hall from when previous generations were younger.

Bedroom belonging to Georgia, aged 15, north London.
Bedroom belonging to Freya, aged 15, east London.
Detail of bedroom belonging to Flo, aged 18, north London.

At least guitars, fairy lights and Elnett continue to survive.

Teenage Bedrooms is curated by Carey Newson, an ESRC-funded doctoral researcher from the Centre for Studies of Home. The photography is by visual anthropologist Kyna Gourley. It runs from 4 October to March next year, and is free.

Last Updated 10 August 2017