‘What about legacy?’ an arts professional challenged me with early on in this project and it is something I have given a great deal of thought to. My engagement with the organisations and individuals I have been working with has grown organically and, like everything else built around the issues of homelessness, is not easily tied down nor can it be fitted neatly into any box, be that with numbers or outcomes.
Rather than create one finished participatory art piece, (although the films that will be projected are very much collaborative pieces), the intention has grown and crystallised to use the skills and time Howard and I have to invigorate and infuse the ongoing work in art and music that is already carried out at Alabare Place, the centre for the homeless, creating bridges between the two, and, through our support, help explore the potential areas these groups could move forward into.
And so, all this has led to a wonderful afternoon yesterday, selecting and framing art work with Ruth, who runs a regular Thursday art group, for the centre’s first art exhibition, all the while having the pleasure of listening to Tim, the person that delivers regular music sessions, playing his guitar and singing with one of the artists involved in the show as we worked. There is great excitement among those whose artwork is going up on display and it’s a real pleasure to see people totally focused on presenting their work as best as they can. For one particular person really struggling with incredibly difficult issues this has been an enormously positive goal. Initially, the exhibition was planned for a later date but when a last minute cancellation meant an opportunity came up to run it in a couple of weeks time we grabbed the opportunity as it seemed just the focus needed for this particular person. The title for the exhibition, ‘Starting from Scratch’, was chosen by participants from one of the songs composed with Howard, the poster design was developed by Ruth, working with a young man with a graphics background. The venue is the Waterstones city centre bookshop, a place where those who have work on display will feel confident enough and able to walk in off the street any time they like. The footfall will be huge and, once the show is over, the framing will mean that the art group can look forward to making regular exhibitions part of their activities, all of which underlines the understanding that their work is of value, that they have something to contribute, and, rather than feeling invisible, that they have a platform from which to be heard.
Shortly I will be working with a few of these artists to help create their own online galleries as part of the Outside in programme, something which will give them an ongoing and growing platform for their work, while also allowing it to be considered for the organisations national and international exhibitions.