Thursday, 17 March 2011

stay together for bad or worse

As an artist I find myself going on my own personal journey of discovery with every new project we work on. A map of you has given me the privilege of hearing homeless peoples stories first hand, direct and at times shocking.  A face to face encounter is a very different experience to reading about peoples lives, hearing stories on the radio or watching on tv, there is no place to hide.

Our duty as arthur+martha, is to try and reflect these encounters in an honest way possible, to encourage people to step outside their prison of circumstances, and to share with a wider world the thoughts and feelings of marginalized people in an accessible way as possible. No mean feat then. 

At the Big Issue offices, I spoke with a number of Roma venders. The venders are there to collect magazines, their working. This encourages Phil and I to be very direct with our questions, we cut to the chase. 'which place makes you feel safest?' I ask, I feel safe in this country, Romanian, no. Safe here. I feel free every single day. The Roma people I speak to again and again re-enforce the value of family and the importance of work. 'When do you feel free? I ask. When you don't have any obligation, when you don't have anyone telling you what to do, when you have happiness, family, a place you can say home, work a proper job, you can earn money. That's when you are free. 

I am a ghost to all of you
not, I am human so to me be true
In the afternoon at the Booth Centre, the group direct the talk to life on the street. The reality of sleeping in cardboard boxes. They spoke with great energy and passion and S, who sits next to me repeats with urgency how important it is to share this with Phil and I, but its no good unless it goes out to a wider audience. A wider public must hear their stories. S and the others examined the postcards created in previous sessions, some artworks captured their imagination and sparked conversations and empathy,  but S felt there should be pieces that spoke in a much more direct way. Taking up their pens S and the others created dozens of new pieces, sharing the works as they made them, laughing and talking passionately of their situations and experiences as they did so.

W, seemed extremely vulnerable during the session, at times shaking with anxiety, leaving the group at times when it got to much, but always coming back. She thinks deeply about things and has a natural poetic way of putting her thoughts down on paper. Seeing her struggle to create the delicate piece below, really moved me.

missing outside beyond reach

people falling like rain, unseen. What will you do?

Anthony shared his usual mix of intelligent thought and great humor. He seemed to revel in the task of writing captions on his photographs. I love the simplicity and comic nature 'leaving on a jet plane'. 

I asked S about his experience of the afternoon, he explained 'It's been inspirational, its put a new focus on things - things most of us hold in. This gives you more focus.'

You can view more of the artworks by visiting our flickr site. Next week Bury.

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