The project was a photography series using fashion and textiles to explore identity, community, sustainability, and spirituality. The 12-year-olds were interviewed about what their GB uniform means to them and had a photoshoot at the group’s church.
Team Leader Jackie Watson says ‘It all started back in February 2023, I received an email from one of our ex-GB members Korantema Anyimadu, who is an exhibition curator and she was putting on an exhibition called Material Witnesses: Fashion and Textiles as Everyday Activism in Waltham Forest. And, as part of the exhibition, they were creating a photography series about textiles and spirituality, where 5 people of different faiths will have their portrait taken by a professional photographer and share their experience about what they wear called Sunday Best. Korantema asked if she could do an interview with our older GB members about what their GB uniform means to them.’
The questions asked were:
- What is it like being in Girls’ Brigade and why is it special to you?
- What’s special about the Girls’ Brigade uniform?
- How do you feel when you wear your uniform?
- What is your favourite part of the uniform and why?
- What is your favourite part of being in Girls’ Brigade?
Here are some of the young people’s answers:
Emily-May: ‘I’ve been here my whole life. There are so many special things about Girls’ Brigade. How supportive the people are, no matter your gender, sexuality. Yeah! How supportive it is…’
Amaya: ‘I think it’s just how friendly everything is, and how everyone makes you feel welcome. When I first joined, it wasn’t that hard for me to make friends, it was almost instant!’
Emily-May:’ I think it’s a bit necessary to wear the uniform because it kind of represents our family as it is, we are definitely a family.’
Alifiya: ‘I think it’s important because it shows how unique we are, everyone’s wearing the same things but you’re unique in your own way in styling it.’
Jumana: ‘To me, when I hear the word faith, I think about religion and I think about Islam ‘cos that’s my religion. Faith also has other meanings, so ‘have faith in me’. Do the people around me have faith in me? And am I surrounding myself with good people? It doesn’t feel weird to be coming here as a Muslim. Although in Islam we don’t follow Jesus as our God, it’s still interesting to learn about it.’
Alifiya: ‘And the leaders make us feel comfortable, like they don’t leave us out because we’re Muslims. They include us. It’s like we’re all together.’
On 12 May 2023, the four girls, their parents and the group’s leaders were invited to the opening evening of the exhibition. The photographer shared the original photos with Jackie and each of the families were given a 12×8 portrait photo of their choice.
The exhibition was at St Mary’s Church in Walthamstow until 5 August, but the website is still live and can be found at www.materialwitnesses.co.uk