Hautlieu School: Identity and Community


The images seen on the pages of this newspaper supplement are extracted from a variety of projects and final outcomes produced over a two-year academic programme of study by a group of A-Level photography students at Hautlieu School. In their final year the themes of Identity and Community offered a specific focus and through a series of creative challenges students developed a body of work that were inspired, partly from visiting heritage institutions to learn about aspects of Jersey’s unique history of immigration and exploring migrant communities and neighbourhoods in St Helier in a series of photo-walks. In the classroom additional inspiration was provided from workshops on NFTs (non-fungible token) and digital art, embroidery and textile art, animation and film-making, zine and photobook design led by professional artists, designers and teachers.

As part of the research and contextual studies students were asked to engage with some of the key questions raised by the Government of Jersey’s Island Identity project and explore through their own photographic studies how they interpret and identify distinctive qualities of island life. What can we learn from looking at a set of photographs produced by young islanders? At first sight they show us a seemingly random set of images of places, people and objects - some familiar, others surprising. On closer inspection each image is a visual sign and also a conundrum. For example, a fish stuffed in a plastic bottle may ask us to consider more closely our marine environment, commercial fishing or food consumption. As a combined sequence of images they represent different views that in many ways comment on a wider discussion on some of the primary objectives explored in the Island Identity project, such as ‘how we see ourselves’ and ‘how others see us.’

The newspaper was sponsored by Deputy Carolyn Labey, Minister for International Development and Assistant Chief Minister who in her foreword shares her personal thoughts on what makes Jersey special to her in context of the Island Identity project led by her department. She says, ‘identity involves searching our soul, engaging with difficult issues, and asking not only who we are, but how others see us and what a vision for the future might look like. The perspective of students and young people in this debate is critical. Identity is a broad and far-reaching concept, one unique to all of us. This collection of images recognises both our differences and our commonalties. These times may be uncertain, but in my view the topic – ‘what Jersey means to you’ – is a fundamentally optimistic and forward-looking one.’

The Identity and Community newspaper is the fourth supplement produced in collaboration between Hautlieu School Photography Department and Jersey Evening Post. In 2018 the first issue was The Future of St Helier and last year the themes of Love & Rebellion explored experiences of isolation and lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. Photographer and teacher Martin Toft who led and managed all education and community arts projects, comments: ‘The question of ‘what makes Jersey special’ matters a great deal to every islander and as visual signs, the images printed on these pages are an attempt - not so much to provide answers - but rather asking questions about the essence of this island we call home, and how it actively will overcome current challenges in shaping a prosperous future for all.’