Known for her lively, colourful displays around London, artist and designer Camille Walala has teamed up with UK charity End Youth Homelessness (EYH) to promote the new Employability Fund. The fund offers education and coaching to help struggling young people build the confidence and skills necessary to escape the clutches of homelessness.
This Autumn, Walala and the EYH employability campaign have designed 120 bold billboards spanning nationwide, with 60 designated to London sites and the other 60 located in Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and Sheffield.
EYH is the first nationwide initiative tackling the crisis of homelessness in the UK. Supporting more than 30,000 young people each year, the organisation gives them support, housing and educational opportunities.
Walala’s work is crucial to the concept. Drawing on a previous work involving a maze-like playground at NOW GALLERY, this project mirrors the obstacles faced by young people who are being let down by the system. Whilst the harsh black lines mimic the barriers excluding them from gaining good education and safe spaces, the vibrancy of colour evokes a redeeming path to safety without dead ends. What’s more, the work is characterised by an optimistic message that speaks for itself, “help them find their way.”
Walala comments on the project, saying “my work has always been driven by my belief that colour and pattern can make a positive difference to people's lives. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to put that philosophy into practice for such an important initiative as End Youth Homelessness.”
“I’m proud to be involved – it means a lot to me,” she concludes.
Who is Camille Walala?
Camille Walala’s background is not what you might expect from a prominent designer. She studied textile design at university, but found her footing when a former colleague asked if she would sell her designs in his wife’s shop. This was no art and design store, it was in fact a cheesemonger, but this made no difference to the young, aspiring designer who jumped at the chance to be able to sell her own work. From there, Camille’s career took off and she caught her first big break designing a “Walala playground” for trendy Shoreditch club, XOYO.
“I’d never done anything like that before” Camille says. “It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. I did these massive slogans and patterns everywhere, huge black and white stripes. I remember going inside and seeing all these people having the best time and it looked so good. I was so happy.”
Following XOYO, Walala was inundated with projects, brand collaborations, installations and even a zebra crossing design . Inspired by the geometric and optical illusions of the 60’s movement ‘Op art’, Walala sees her art as encouraging people to not take themselves too seriously, imbuing her creations with humour and delight. Art should be enjoyed, she reflects, “the best exhibition I saw was Bridget Riley. I felt like a child again. That’s what I’m trying to create with my work – to have a really positive effect on someone.”