All Saintsâ€™ Church, Weston, will be the first ever church to host an acclaimed exhibition of images taken by eight disadvantaged teenagers from Johannesburg, which will go on to form part of the Olympic celebrations this summer.
Wembley to Soweto, made up of over 40 celebrated images, will be on display in the church from 28 January to 25 February as part of a UK-wide tour before being used as the backdrop to the opening concert for the 2012 Olympics at Londonâ€™s Alexandra Palace.
Championed by Nelson Mandelaâ€™s grandson Kweku, the exhibition is produced by Brighton-based Wilton Pictures. Endorsed by celebrities from the world of film and television, football and politics, the project has been an extraordinary example of the difference a picture can make.
Under the guidance of Wilton Pictures founder David Westhead, the eight teenagers were trained to use a camera in less than five weeks by international photographer John Cole. The aim of the project was to â€˜feed a family with a cameraâ€™ and afforded the youngsters a chance to gain confidence and experience, build a career and contribute to their community.
David said: â€œTo be honest, when John and I set out to run the course, we hoped a couple of the students might make a few quid taking wedding photos and the like, but the fact they are now working for the United Nations, the government, and taking portraits of some of the worldâ€™s best-known actors shows what can be achieved by talented youngsters with a determination to have their voices heard.â€
The Revd Phillip Johnson, of All Saintsâ€™ Weston, said: â€œWe are thrilled to host the exhibition. I have always believed in creating opportunity. Given the community focus of â€˜Wembley to Soweto', it fits perfectly with the ethos of our church and our plans for 2012.â€
Over the next few months, Wilton Pictures will be working with local schools around Esher to introduce youngsters to photography. Entry to the exhibition will be free and a gala reception evening is planned for the church on 18 February. Photographs and books will be available for sale at the exhibition and all the profits will continue to help disadvantaged youth. For further information visit http://www.wiltonpictures.com