Hackney children battle ‘false’ food advertising in new exhibition

Artwork by Izack from The Urswich School

Artwork by Izack from The Urswick School. Pic: Kate Poland

Advertising aimed at young people encouraging them to choose unhealthy foods has become the focus of a new exhibition featuring artworks made by children from The Urswick School, Hackney Quest and Concorde Youth Club.

The exhibition titled “What You See is NOT What You Get” launches this Thursday at the A-Side B-Side Gallery on Mare Street, Hackney.

The project aims to educate children about healthier food choices by teaching them how advertising works.

It is a collaboration between Cordwainers Grow, a community focused on experimental learning, and SugarSmart Hackney, a campaign aiming to lower excessive sugar intake.

Kate Poland, the project leader, said: “’What You See is NOT What You Get’ is an exhibition that came from work made by children in Hackney responding to the ways the advertising industry targets them and persuades them to eat food that is high in fat, sugar and salt.

“Nearly half of 11 year-olds in Hackney are obese or overweight and junk food is, of course, part of the problem.

“Our project doesn’t tell children how to eat healthily.  Instead, we look at how powerful advertising is in persuading children to make unhealthy choices – through branding, packaging, product placement, games, cartoon characters and so on.

“We’re not saying everyone is going to stop eating crisps or chocolate, but that if they can recognise the subtleties and subterfuge of advertising strategies – they will be better equipped to decide what to eat.”

Artwork by Chyna from The Urswich School. Pic: Kate Poland

Artwork by Chyna from The Urswich School. Pic: Kate Poland

There will be an ‘anti-junk walk’ on the afternoon of the opening led by a group of children holding placards in protest of ‘false’ advertising.

The walk will begin at The Urswick School, on Paragon Road, and finish at the gallery site.

The Urswick School is a small secondary school based in the heart of Hackney. Hackney Quest is an organisation which provides positive activities for young people in the borough.

Concorde Youth Club is a youth club located near to the Olympic Park and Hackney Marshes. They have regular activities including track cycling and BMX. The club is also host to the Barry Mcguigan Boxing Academy.

A borough-wide poster campaign displaying the children’s work will also be rolled out in May.

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