March 17, 2021
“I need excitement oh I need it bad/ And it’s the best I’ve ever had” The Undertones -Teenage kicks
During summer 2020 we had a period of less restrictions that coincided with a heatwave, bringing everyone out to enjoy what little freedom 2020 had to offer.
Finding myself spending a lot more time in my hometown during this period, I got to thinking about the insular nature of the small town mundanity and ultimately, my own mis-spent youth.
I wanted to investigate how our local teenagers were coping in these unloved, hidden-away, forgotten-about corners of England.
The slipway in Surfleet, Lincolnshire, attracted all kinds of people during those hot summer months of 2020 including hoards of teenage students who would ordinarily would have been having the time of their lives, experiencing independence and exploring new places and connections. Instead they were here, letting off steam, intoxicated with freedom and youth; a flashing chance of hope and joy amidst the darkness of the pandemic.
I took my camera along with me and spent days swimming and relaxing in the sun at the slipway, all at once invigorated and saddened by the palpable energy of youth around me; where had my own gone? For days I carried with me a simultaneous feeling of rebirth and grief, of new beginnings and the shedding of old skin. It occurred to me how incredibly precious our small window of youth is, how these teenagers at this moment could not possibly comprehend that, too busy living it and loving it with the careless abandon and assuredness that it will last forever.
Knowing that it wouldn’t, I set about capturing it on my camera. I was delighted by their spontaneity and camaraderie, their willingness to let me in in the spirit of fun and friendship.
These photographs capture the spirit, the movement, the playfulness of that specific moment in time. Unlike any time any of us have known before or are likely to know again. This is what happened when our local teenagers were kept separate and isolated and restricted for months, and then let loose into the summer sunshine.
The kids are alright you know. They’re stronger than we think.
By Emma Aylett, Surfleet, Lincolnshire.