I was invited together with Polish artist Maria Dembek to conceive two photography workshops for the Łaźnia centre for contemporary art in Gdansk Poland, targeted at young people in the town of Nowy port. The harbour town of Nowy Port was for many years a busy area of trade and the lighthouse is the landmark where events at the battle of Gdańsk boiled over to begin the outbreak of WW2. Nowy Port has over the past years earned the name of New Bronx due to its past hard and wild reputation. Since the closure of the port and lack of investment the town has run into neglect and the area now mainly houses the workers at the stocznia shipyard in Gdansk. Łaźnia decided to draw attention to Nowy Port and open a new art and culture centre in the town.
The ‘No Fear’ workshop aimed at using photography as a tool to face fear. We asked the participants to take the workshop group to areas of the town where they experienced fearful events or feelings and using a pinhole camera capture these places on film. As the camera has no viewfinder or automatic functions it forces the photographer to compose the image through imagination. The children took portraits of each other with a toy camera at the locations and took part in developing the films. On the last day of the workshop we viewed the images and discussed the events that gave the fearful feelings in the images. Their stories gave me a deep insight into the area of Nowy Port and the lives of people living there. On the face of it the town is really fascinating, historically and culturally.
Photos © Robin McAulay