Award-winning Scottish digital imaging project

Merlin John

Merlin John looks at an award-winning digital imaging project that enables children to use high-tech editing facilities to produce their visions of the future.

Dear Jonathan, I need your help. The planet Zanzie 2111. A giant robot called Tobor is destroying the buildings and Mele made a twin robot to help me to destroy Tobor. I have put a button on the bottom to transport you to help me.

Zenso = goodbye.

Boys will be boys, and saving the planet comes pretty high on their list of priorities. This particular boy is Jonathan Callaghan-Thomas, a pupil at Dumbryden primary school in Edinburgh, who was taking part in Messages from the Future, an exhilarating Scottish digital imaging project that has scooped the Arts Council of England's prestigious Chrisi Bailey Award for primary school photography.

Jonathan, and 80 other children from Edinburgh's Dumbryden, Costorphine and Southmorningside primary schools, worked with the local Stills gallery to produce their own futuristic images. They used digital cameras and the gallery's high-tech editing facilities to produce the work, which has been used in an exhibition and a Messages from the Future: Yer 2000 calendar. The gallery is also using the images to produce a CD-Rom and resource pack to promote the project (and needs additional funds).

Project co-ordinator Lindsay Perth attributes the project's success to the ratio of artists to children (2:1) in the editing suite, tight organisation and the children's "total lack of fear".

"Every child's piece is original," she says.

One class from each school took part, with each class split into two groups. The 10-year-olds worked with six artists in the digital laboratory and darkrooms at Stills, with each producing a message. They used digital cameras, scanners, industry-standard software and traditional photographic techniques to produce their visions of 2043.

So, how much will our world have changed? Costorphine's Eilidh Munro describes her vision: Dear Eilidh, As you can see from the picture Earth has changed a lot! Do you like my Virtual Reality earrings? They are the latest fashion! I have changed a lot too as you can see from the picture of me.

From Eilidh.

Stills, 23 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh EH1 1BP.Tel: 0131 622 6200Email:

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