A poignant moment of joy and a significant rite of passage.

Artistic project Leavers by Lewis Khan captures an intimate connection with multiple generations of students. A glimpse at the soul of what it means to be young in London today. The Vauxhall-based artist captures the gorgeously chaotic and emotionally charged scenes at a secondary school prom in south London.

Ethereally graded Super 8 film, with intimate narration by poet and author Caleb Femi of a piece titled ‘Glass’ which was written specially for the film, and Sound tracked by ‘Dansaki’ by artist Lara George. Leavers is a pairing of sticky summer heat in Vauxhall and teenagers on the brink of their next chapter. Donned in shiny suits and big dresses, they exit as glittering, colourful pinpricks of light spilling into the bubbling city nightscape.

In 2018 Lewis approached the school to take portraits, and since, filming the students each year has become a ritual. He was able to trace their journeys from the red-carpet entrance at the school to the heated flashing of the dancefloor, and back out into the night — revealing snippets of their personalities along the way. For one evening, friendships are forged between rival social groups, from kings and queens with plastic crowns balanced atop hair-dos and shades, to the classroom outsiders.

The outcome? A joyful work that subverts expectations and perceptions of what inner-city teenage life looks like in this moment. Championing the purity of its subjects: teenagers about to take their first steps into adulthood.

“I wanted to try and bring an aesthetic to the environment without disturbing what was happening and feel like this project is a real product of that.”

Lewis Khan

Director, DOP, Editor: Lewis Khan

Film: Lewis Khan
Spoken Word: Caleb Femi
Music: Lara George
Soundmix: Trait Sound
Grade: John Alexander Lowe Assistants:2018: Jesse Williams2019:Jack Orton and Roeland Lenoir2021: Luca Strano and Khatun