Exhibition review 28th September 2016 – Royal Armouries, Leeds
By Emma Christie

IMG_1140 2The Royal Armouries in Leeds has an exhibition aimed at challenging gun and gang culture and refocusing attention the impact violent crimes have on families and communities.

The exhibit is displayed as a combination of a crime scene and police investigation room, with yellow warning tape and photographs across the walls. The photos are of immediate family members of two men murdered in separate gang related incidents, and the emergency and city staff connected to them on those days, each with a short story on how it has effected them.

Paula Keenan, the artist behind the work, aims to raise the issue of how current culture glorifies guns – from films like James Bond and video games such as Grand Theft Auto, to toy guns for children to play with. Children, adolescents and young adults are more impressionable (Baumeister and Bushman, 2013), and these everyday links with guns and gangs might have an impact on the development of a glorification of gun and gang culture within certain youth populations. This is emphasised by the placement of ‘Impact’ within the Modern Warfare hall at the Armouries.

I believed the exhibit to be powerful. The emotions were very raw from the families and made for an impassioned perspective. The added focus of these being Leeds devastations shown in a Leeds gallery of armour and weapons, truly forces those viewing to connect to what happens within our city.

I view the main goal of ‘Impact’ as a message. It reaches out individually, as to whether it is worth being a part of this culture and to consider the reality of that path. Also reaching out to family units, the Leeds community, and the UK as a whole – that sharing our stories, listening, uniting and providing other opportunities and options for young people, is the way we can challenge gun and gang crime.

Baumeister, R. and Bushman, B. 2013. Social Psychology and Human Nature, Comprehensive Edition 3rd ed. Cengage Learning.