Making the Quilt of Homelessness

One Festival of Homeless Arts and The Quilt of Homelessness.

Over the summer, Accumulate met up with David Tovey – an amazing ex-homeless artist who set up the One Festival of Homeless Arts. The One Festival celebrates, raises awareness and educates about the power of art to transform lives and also showcases the incredible art, talents and creativity of the homeless community. So, all in all – it’s a great thing and an event that Accumulate identified with and wanted to be part of.

One Festival of Homeless Arts Exhibition 2017

One Festival of Homeless Arts Exhibition 2017

The idea that we came up with for this year’s festival was to create a Quilt of Homelessness – a live art activity that would happen on the opening night of the festival. The Accumulate photographers would take instant photograph portraits of the festival visitors and then these would be sewn together to become The Quilt of Homelessness.

The Quilt of Homelessness seemed to be a really significant homeless art project to do as there are strong emotional connections with quilts representing a home or comfort as well as having family implications as, very often, quilts are family heirlooms which are passed down through the generations.

Eleven residents from Evolve Housing hostels took part in the Quilt of Homelessness project, chatting with the festival visitors and taking their portraits.

Taking the photographs for the Quilt of Homelessness

Taking the photographs for the Quilt of Homelessness

 

 

 

 

The joy of seeing the instant photographs for the Quilt of Homelessness develop

The joy of seeing the instant photographs for the Quilt of Homelessness develop

The photographing, making and displaying of the quilt was exciting, transformative and had its own energy of being created on the night, before becoming a thing of beauty to look at and admire.

The Quilt of Homelessness at the One Festival of Homeless Arts

The Quilt of Homelessness at the One Festival of Homeless Arts

Many thanks to Fujifilm Instax for sponsoring the film and also all our donors from our Quilt of Homelessness crowdfunding campaign for helping to make it happen.

The Quilt of Homelessness is on display at The Old Diorama Arts Centre, Regents Place, 201 Drummond St, London NW1 3FE until 31.10.17. After then it will be going into a private art collection.

Making the Quilt of Homelessness

Making the Quilt of Homelessness

Tonya's poster at the DECAY zine workshop

The Accumulate DECAY ZINE Issue 2

The past week we have been running a series of ZINE workshops with residents of Evolve Housing‘s Stockwell hostel. It is always a bit of a stress, not knowing if the project is going to appeal or, worse still, whether anyone is going to turn up and actually do anything. Well, the fears didn’t last long, every day people would turn up, sit round a shared table, talk and share insights, stories and their creativity with each other.

Getting creative at the DECAY zine workshop

Getting creative at the DECAY zine workshop

It became a very meaningful activity, trust was developed and creative content was produced for the DECAY zine which was beautiful, emotional, personal and incredible. They produced drawings, illustrations, poems, photographs, stories and collages and it will now be a hard task to edit, select and curate these for Issue 2 of the Accumulate DECAY zine. Tonya came to the DECAY workshop after getting a new job, and she created this lovely poster which just sums up how great she felt!

Tonya's poster at the DECAY zine workshop

Tonya’s poster at the DECAY zine workshop


The start of "reverse sunset" by Tia at the DECAY workshops

The start of “reverse sunset” by Tia at the DECAY workshops

We finished the week of with a portrait and drawing workshop at Youth Subculture. The group created their own backdrops and then had their portraits taken in front of their creative work.

Aaron's backdrop for DECAY zine portrait

Aaron’s backdrop for DECAY zine portrait

It was a very empowering session, in fact the whole project has really encapsulated what Accumulate is all about – using creativity as a tool for empowerment and progressing in life. DECAY will come out in September, so be sure to grab a copy and find out just how much talent there is, that is hidden, and just needs a helping hand to be enjoyed, appreciated and admired. It’s going to be great!

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The Accumulate video and our Camera Amnesty campaign.

This video shows what Accumulate is all about.

Our latest exhibition, Made By Us,  showcased the photographs of 23  young homeless people and the launch at The Guardian was a huge success. This year, 6 people, who were on the Accumulate programme, will be starting at Ravensbourne college in September. Their lives are now on a new path and their futures look much brighter than they did a year ago. It really is amazing how much everyone has progressed on the project, learning new skills, building their confidence and realising their own potential and ability to progress their lives into a much more positive space.

One thing that the Accumulate participants speak about is how much they would like their own cameras so that they can take photographs in their own time. The lovely folk at Shutterhub heard about this, created the Camera Amnesty campaign and have reached out to the photography community to tell them about the project and ask them to donate their old cameras to Accumulate so that we can distribute them to our participants.

Result! Cameras are coming in and here’s a very happy Eric with his Camera Amnesty camera!

Eric with his Camera Amnesty camera

Eric with his Camera Amnesty camera

 

Made By Us Exhibition Invitation

Tick tock, the Accumulate Made By Us exhibition is nearly here!

This is it, the final countdown to what we have been working towards since January – the Accumulate photography exhibition opens at The Guardian space this Thursday, 11th May,  at 7pm. So that’s 15 photography workshops, 20 student helpers, 9 hostels, 2 tutors, 23 participants and lots of energy, enthusiasm, love and friendship that has gone into the Accumulate Made By Us exhibition.

Made By Us Exhibition Invitation

Made By Us Exhibition Invitation

The day before we open the exhibition we will also be awarding 3 scholarships for 3 lucky, and very talented, Accumulate participants to study, fully funded, on the Access to HE Diploma in Design and Digital Media at Ravensbourne. It’s going to be one hell of an exhibition, and here is a sneak preview of some of the work that will be exhibited.

Jay Narayanan Portrait of Eric

Jay Narayanan Portrait of Eric

Kat Jagne: The Red head Scarf

Kat Jagne: The Red head Scarf

Thurshika Parthanan: Rose Tree

Thurshika Parthanan: Rose Tree

Geron at the Creative Writing Session

Creative Writing and the Accumulate Group

For the first time, since Accumulate started in 2013, we ran a creative writing session with the group. Writing itself often presents its own challenges, with negative experiences about school, literacy issues and dyslexia all becoming reasons not to attend the session. But these fears were set aside and 16 people turned up one Wednesday afternoon for a creative writing session at The Africa Centre in Southwark. We focused on two aspects, writing about their experiences on the Accumulate project and then, specifically, about their photographs which will be in the exhibition.

What was so evident was just how much everyone connected and were so eager to describe their experiences, they are so invested in Accumulate and having such a great time that now they can surmount any challenge. It was also the right time in the project to introduce the creative writing session, any earlier and we would not have had their attention or responses.  The brilliant session leader – Joanna Brown, delivered a really evolving workshop session that probed, asked and teased out the information, we had helpers on board to support where needed and then, at the end, we shared a “community” meal, kindly sponsored by local restaurant, Bala Baya. What a great day!

Geron at the Creative Writing Session

Geron at the Creative Writing Session

Geron, Claire, Deluxe, Sabela and Jay at the Accumul8 Shoreditch workshop.

Learning photography at Accumulate isn’t just about learning photography.

Accumulate is all about learning. learning new skills, learning about photography and for the young people involved, to learn more about themselves and their potential. One thing Accumulate also tries to do is to vary the learning styles we use as much as possible. So, even though, we are delivering photography workshops every week and the participants are learning to use DSLR cameras and how to take good photographs, the learning also comes from industry speakers, visiting galleries and exhibitions, doing activities and developing personal skills (such as communication, time management and self-discipline skills) in a comfortable and trusting environment.

This is all part of a journey that the participants go on. It is a journey of self -discovery, such as when the group did the portrait workshop at Photofusion and wrote letters to their future selfs. They decorated their portraits with stickers and jewels and shared their insights and letters with each other. It became a situation where people opened up and talked about their hopes for themselves.

Sharing and learning together at the Photofusion workshop.

Sharing and learning together at the Photofusion workshop.

Louis shares his letter to himself in 15 years time.

Louis shares his letter to himself in 15 years time.

A really popular, and very exciting, annual Accumulate photography workshop is the visit to London Fashion Week where the group photographs all the fashionistas who hang about outside the shows. This year, we held the “pre-workshop” at Somerset House and invited three fashion industry speakers to tell of their stories, their set-backs and achievements. One of the speakers was Tori Taiwo, a fashion designer and photographer, who had been previously homeless, and told the group that their situation should not be used to hold them back but can be turned into something positive. A really hard hitting, powerful and heart felt message for the Accumulate group, and Tori spent time speaking about how her own personal negative situation which became a force for eventual success. All it took her was self-belief, grit, determination and resilience. And those don’t cost anything.

Younnis shares his photograph with a fashionista at London Fashion Week.

Jay shares his photograph with a fashionista at London Fashion Week.

And so the Accumulate photography workshops have now come to an end for 2017 and the selection process starts for their exhibition.

The last workshop the group had was a street photography session which took place in Shoreditch. Shoreditch is all about of crazy graffiti, Hoxton hipsters and cool cafes, but this last Accumul8 workshop was actually about learning that everyone had been on an incredible life journey. They had become more confident, happy, made new friends and were enthusiastic and energised by their new skills. This is true for the Accumulate participants and also the Ravensbourne students. Just young people who enjoy learning, sharing and being with each other. Roll on the Accumulate exhibition!

Geron, Claire, Deluxe, Sabela and Jay at the Accumul8 Shoreditch workshop.

Geron, Claire, Deluxe, Sabela and Younis at the Accumulate Shoreditch workshop.

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Crep Protect and The Accumul8 Scholarship

Crep Protect are a cool company, they are even cooler as they are changing someone’s life by funding a scholarship for an Accumul8 participant to study on the year long Access to HE course in design and digital media at Ravensbourne College. We asked them why and this is what they said….. (we love them even more now!)

“Crep Protect , created by 3 brothers from London’s district of Kingsbury , 3 brothers who had a simple desire to keep their sneakers fresh and to share the product with close friends / family and maybe a few retailers .
From humble beginnings – self funded , even when there were no funds available , to now just a few years later , to where the business currently stands , distributed in 52 countries and retailed in the most exclusive sneaker boutiques as well as all of the major players.

The reason that Crep Protect gets involved in opportunities such as this is because to a man , we have on occasion been paper close to losing everything that we have , we have been in the situation where you feel lost and helpless , yearning for someone to care , for someone to give you just a little lift , to get you off your knees and get you moving forward .
We know that feeling of everything being lost , so we know that if we can do something good for someone else , for no reason than the fact that we can , that we should , then maybe someone else will do the same .
When we are up and running ,when we are doing well , we should never forget to look around , to look and see who needs that little nudge , that opportunity to show that they are worthy , that they are talented and that they should not be measured by the situation that they find themselves in .
This is why we care – because it very easily could be any of us.”

So, if anyone out there relates to Crep Protect’s story and wants to help, feels inspired and can change a young, homeless person’s life by helping to fund an Accumul8 scholarship then we would love to hear from you, and you can find out more on our pledges page here

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Shoreditch Shoots and the Accumul8 Gang

This week we went to Autograph’s premises in Shoreditch. It is the home of the Association of Black Photographers and we were really privileged to be shown the archive of photographs by black and diverse photographers, hear about the organisation and learn about a wealth of photographic work with huge cultural and historical importance.

Ali Eissa from Autograph in Shoreditch shows off the wonders of their archive to the Accumul8 participants.

Ali Eissa from Autograph in Shoreditch shows off the wonders of their archive to the Accumul8 participants.

About 95% of Accumul8’s participants this year are from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds and so this visit and significant relevance and importance to them and was something that they could all relate to.

The amazing and inspirational Gisela Torres then led the photography workshop around the streets of Shoreditch, with the students from Ravensbourne assisting and supporting the Accumul8 participants to take the best possible shots in the lead up to their exhibition at The Guardian.

Goda from Ravensbourne, Younnes from Freedom from Torture and Geron from East London YMCA on the Accumul8 Shoreditch Shoot.

Goda from Ravensbourne, Younnes from Freedom from Torture and Geron from East London YMCA on the Accumul8 Shoreditch Shoot.

The participants, who are from 9 different hostels across London, are now friends with each other, sharing their images and being open about their work and aspirations within the project. It is so amazing how the impact of this project goes beyond learning about photography and encourages confidence, communication skills and pride in the participants.

Gisela Torres, an Accumul8 tutor, shares her photography wisdom and skills with Jay and Alex, two Accumul8 participants.

Gisela Torres, an Accumul8 tutor, shares her photography wisdom and skills with Jay and Alex, two Accumul8 participants on the Shoreditch Shoots photography workshop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Learning and sharing photography skills and making new friends as well.

Learning new skills is just one aspect of the Accumul8 photography workshops, yes – the main focus is learning about photography, but other stuff happens – which is just as exciting, rewarding and nourishing as the excitement of taking great photographs. Friendships are made between groups of young people that would not have met before, social skills are built and new places and parts of London are discovered and visited that include its museums and galleries. To have over 50 young people energised to visit a museum and feel comfortable in it is a serious accomplishment, no longer do these places seem out of bound or not for them. So far, we have had Accumul8 workshops at Tate Modern, Somerset House, The Barbican and Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery in Southwark.  Along with learning photography techniques, the Accumul8 group have had talks from practising photographers about their work and their careers, visited exhibitions and also overcome personal challenges to ask strangers to have their portraits taken. All part of their learning and opening up to new opportunities, wherever they may be.

 

Learning and sharing photography skills

Learning and sharing photography skills