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Accumulate Scholarship Winner LisaLouise Machregor shares her joy with her mother

Accumulate Exhibition 2018

The Accumulate Exhibition 2018 took place at The Guardian building in Kings Cross. 20 people, who are affected by homelessness, who took part in the 15 week Accumulate photography course showed their work at the exhibition and what makes the private view special is not just that they can see their creative work displayed so expertly in a curated exhibition, but that the people that attend are interested in them, in their stories and in their creativity. It really is a very special night and has a feeling of a celebration about it, a celebration of talent, achievement, determination and collaboration.

More people than ever turned up to this year’s Accumulate exhibition private view, which made it into even more of a party atmosphere.

The Accumulate Exhibition 2018

The Accumulate Exhibition 2018

We also did audio recordings of each of the participants talking about their photographs and their experiences of coming on the Accumulate project and what it meant to them. One of the participants, Olive Douglas, spoke about how good the project made her feel, she even spoke to her doctor about it – who, as a result, reduced her medication.

Olive Douglas, an Accumulate participant, shares her story with an Accumulate exhibition visitor

Olive Douglas, an Accumulate participant, shares her story with an Accumulate exhibition visitor

Scholarships were awarded to three Accumulate participants so that they can continue their creative education and study on the Access to HE Diploma in Design and Digital Media at Ravensbourne University London. This is life changing. The recipients of the scholarships are Max Sita-Mbele, Lisalouise Macgregor and Jahmel Anderson Hendricks. Many many thanks to the sponsors of the scholarships – Brickworks London, Straight Forward Design and Ruth Keetch – they have all changed someone’s life forever.

 Max Sita-Mbele with Professor Linda Drew, Marice Cumber and Ruth Keetch


Max Sita-Mbele with Professor Linda Drew, Marice Cumber and Ruth Keetch

Accumulate Scholarship Winner LisaLouise Machregor shares her joy with her mother

Accumulate Scholarship Winner LisaLouise Macgregor shares her joy with her mother

Displacement - The Accumulate 2018 Exhibition

The Accumulate Exhibition 2018

The Accumulate 2018 exhibition opens at The Guardian building at 90 York Way, Kings Cross, London in just 5 days time. This year, we have 21 people, from 6 hostels, who completed the 15 week Accumulate photography course, learnt new skills and made new friends. The theme of this year’s exhibition is Displacement, and on the course we visited places and exhibitions around London that related or drew influence from the theme, such as Peckham, Dalston and Shoreditch and the Basquiet exhibition at The Barbican.

Displacement - The Accumulate 2018 Exhibition

Displacement – The Accumulate 2018 Exhibition

As ever, the build up to the exhibition is full of anticipation and expectation. Accumulate participants have recently put themselves through the task of applying for a scholarship to continue their creative education and study on the Access to HE Diploma in Design and Digital Media at Ravensbourne. This year, three scholarships are up for grabs and these will be announced and awarded at the Displacement Exhibition Private View on 17th May. It is a life changing opportunity for those that are successful and selected for a scholarship. Our thanks go to Brickworks London, the Ethical Estate Agency, Straight Forward Design Company and Ruth Keetch, a Ravensbourne governor, for supporting and funding these scholarships.

The Accumulate exhibition is not just about displaying the photographs taken by the Accumulate participants. It has a bigger role to play – it showcases the talents of a group of people that may feel marginalised and excluded from the mainstream and it becomes an educational tool of how much talent exists that is under utilised and needs to be nurtured and supported. Most of all, on the exhibition private view evening the Accumulate participants celebrate their achievements, learning and developments and others celebrate with them and admire their work. All of this is part of the positive learning journey that helps people to believe in themselves, their potential and ability to self progress onto a better place in life.

All of the photographs in the Accumulate Displacement exhibition are for sale, with profits split between the participants, so that they can earn money from their creativity, and Accumulate so that it can continue its services and provide more creative workshops to people affected by homelessness. It is possible to purchase the Accumulate exhibition 2018 photographs from our online shop here 

 

The Accumulate group try out yoga at Level Six Yoga Studio, Peckham Levels

The Accumulate Photography Workshops 2018

The Accumulate Photography Workshops 2018 are nearly over for another year. They start in January and end mid-May with the exhibition,  and, this year, two things have really stood out, friendship and trust.

Friendship: We have people from different hostel groups, different countries and different age groups this year, more so than previously. We have an ex basket ball player from Kuwait, a retired gardener, a gospel singer, a chef and a cricket fan amongst our group. They come every week, sun, rain or snow, and what has been really apparent is that friendships have been made, people are hanging out with different people, they meet outside of the Accumulate photography workshops and they all “high five” each other when they arrive and hug at the end.

Friendship is so positive, and sometimes we can take it for granted. Friendship counters loneliness – which can be a trigger for mental health issues and depression, and it means you are connected to other people in a positive way. The Accumulate participants are not connected together because they live in a hostel and have the same life circumstance. They are connected together through their love of doing something creative, they communicate and share themselves through this, and they witness and experience a bond with people who they look forward to seeing each week and spending time with.

Mask making at the Accumulate "Identity" Workshop which took place at The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Mask making at the Accumulate “Identity” Workshop which took place at The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Trust: When we began the Accumulate 2018 photography workshops, there was a wariness, aloofness and inhibition that spread across the group. No one wanted to put their hand up to ask a question, there was a bit of “them and us” going on, and there definitely wasn’t a sense of trust or security. Everyone started off a bit unsure of what they had embarked on, a bit unsure of themselves and definitely unsure of the other people in the room. Slowly, trust has built up. Trust between the participants, the participants and the student helpers and between the participants, student helpers and the tutors. Once that trust began to take place, we started to introduce other creative activities, beyond photography. The group made visual art in response to the Basquiat exhibition at The Barbican, made their own protest t.shirts for a London Fashion Week activity and made masks for the “Identity and Culture” talk at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

But out of all of this creativity, one activity has stood out above all else and has been the emotional and rewarding highlight of the project so far – Yoga. This past week the Accumulate group had their first yoga lesson. That this actually happened is a sign that these 18 people, the Accumulate participants, now all trust each other, feel good about themselves and have found their self-confidence to try something new and outside of their comfort zone. This was is the biggest achievement of the project so far. It also symbolises what Accumulate stands for and sets out to do – to build confidence, trust and empowerment through creativity. Seeing the Accumulate group participate in a yoga lesson, love it and want to do more just shows just how far they all have come.

The Accumulate group try out yoga at Level Six Yoga Studio, Peckham Levels

The Accumulate group try out yoga at Level Six Yoga Studio, Peckham Levels

Accumulate DECAY at The London Art Fair private view

Accumulate starts 2018 full of creativity!

Creativity is at the core of Accumulate, and the start of 2018 has certainly lived up to this.

We started off with the “DECAY at The London Art Fair” exhibition where we showcased the creativity of the 11 participants from Evolve Housing in Stockwell who participated in the Accumulate magazine project last year.

DECAY at The London Art Fair Invitation

DECAY at The London Art Fair Invitation

To say that the DECAY exhibition private view was busy would be an understatement! Thank you to everyone who came along, bought artwork and were so positive about what Accumulate does and how it helps young people who are homeless through creativity.

Accumulate DECAY at The London Art Fair private view

Accumulate DECAY at The London Art Fair private view

But the best part of all was receiving this feedback from a care leaver who visited the exhibition.

“I had such a great time at this event! The painting were amazing because I could feel what the young people have been through as I am a young person living in a hostel too.
I would be more than happy to volunteer and help as much as I can, because I think that by volunteering it’s the best way to help people.”
We have now started the Accumulate photography project, this year we are working with 7 hostel groups and this year we will collaborate with Somerset House, The Barbican, Tate Modern, Autograph ABP, Victoria and Albert Museum and The Photographers Gallery to deliver our workshops. Every year something wonderful happens on this project and this year, it is wonderful to see last year’s Accumulate graduates and scholarship winners supporting and helping this year’s participants.
Jay, an Accumulate graduate, supports Anushan

Jay, an Accumulate graduate, supports Anushan

Recently we ran a series of zine workshops with The House of St Barnabas (HOSB). HOSB is a private members club in Soho, which is actually also a charity that trains people affected by homelessness with hospitality and catering skills so that they can gain employment and enter the industry. The Accumulate workshops focused on writing, drawing and photography and the content will be used for the next issue of the Accumulate DECAY zine.  This Accumulate project is a real creative collaboration as the workshops were attended by graduates of the HOSB Employment Academy, staff and members, the content will be worked on by 80 students from the graphic design course at Ravensbourne, and the amazing Creative Conscience folk are supporting this project. Everyone is getting involved, getting creative and will be full of fulfilment and creative contentment.

Harvey's hands after the Accumulate workshop at HOSB

Harvey’s hands after the Accumulate workshop at HOSB

 

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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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

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Accumul8 photography workshops – all set to go!

This month we are starting the Accumul8 photography workshops for young people who have been affected by homelessness and we have some amazing partners for the project including Tate Modern, The Barbican, Somerset House, The Photographers’ Gallery and The Guardian.

When the Accumul8 photography workshops were set up, in 2014, we worked with just one hostel – the North London YMCA Hostel in Crouch End. This year we are very excited to be working with nine hostels across London, so a major organisational activity!, and we will be extending the good work we do to places like Stonewall Housing, that supports members of the LGBT community, and also Freedom from Torture, who help and support victims or witnesses of torture. Other hostels that are participating are East London YMCA Hostel, North London YMCA Hostel, the Evolve group of hostels and Caritas Anchor Housing.

What’s even better is two of the participants from last year’s Accumul8 programme will be joining us as workshop facilitators. It is really wonderful to see the transition that Accumul8 makes to peoples’ lives and nothing evidences this more than when they want to come back and help others who were in the position that they were in a year ago. So, welcome Dan Fifield and Sam Adesanya – you will be super role models and mentors for Accumul8 2017.

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Dan Fifield, once an Accumul8 participant, now an Accumul8 photography mentor, with his work at the Accumul8 exhibition 2016.

Sam Adesanya with Marice Cumber

Sam Adesanya with Marice Cumber, founder of Accumul8, at the Accumul8 exhibition 2016. Sam won the Accumul8 photography scholarship and is now studying Design and Digital Media at Ravensbourne.

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Photography week three.

A quick update on the progress of the Accumul8 photography workshops. The approach we are taking is learning through doing, everything is practice based with experimentation as the central core of the Accumul8 participants’ personal development process. In this way, they learn in a supported environment, about risk, confidence, self-belief, managing their own expectations, failure and success. All soft skills that may seem natural to some of us, but for some they need to understand these and adopt these life skills at a later stage in life.

After three weeks, the participants now know all about shutter speed, depth of field and apertures, and they have created their own blogs as a place to upload their photos. They have taken portraits and still life photographs and have produced some really brilliant and creatively rich images.

Yesterday TJ, one if the hostel residents and an Accumul8 participant, said to me, “the only thing that is keeping me going at the moment is my birthday celebration next week and these photography classes”

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The start of a new season

We have now started the Accumul8 season of photography workshops at the North London YMCA hostel, which will end with an exhibition of the hostel residents’ photographs at the Crouch End Festival in June.

Digital photography is a really effective creative medium to engage and inspire the residents. It allows them to explore and use their creativity, in a very non-judgmental way, but more importantly, puts them in charge and by doing so, increases their confidence, communication skills and sense of well-being. Also digital photography is instant and an activity that everyone can participate in, experiment with and enjoy.

This year, we are again working with Ravensbourne, the college that I work at, who have partnered with Accumul8 – thank you James and Lucy. The students on the access course will be assisting the photographer, Othello deSouza Hartley, who is leading the tuition for the sessions. What is special this year is that the residents will receive a university certificate in digital media (level 2) at the end of the project. This is going to be something very significant, as the residents have often not only suffered from destructive pasts that has triggered their homelessness, but also from poor and fragmented education which has hampered their abilities to progress into employment or other training. Hopefully, the Accumul8 project can inspire them to reconnect with education, relish their achievements and help them on their journey to a better future.

The photo shows Sylwia, an access student at Ravensbourne, helping TJ, a resident at the YMCA hostel, to understand about composition and framing an image.

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Also, this week we are super proud to launch the Accumul8 Community Jam page on our website. This is a page where the community can participate and donate to the Accumul8 project by donating a preserves recipe. (Accumul8 and the residents make and sell preserves with surplus fruit to help pay for the Accumul8 creative workshops at the hostel). The aim of the Accumul8 Community Jam page is to help build awareness of Accumul8 and the work it does and hopefully, inspires a new audience to learn about sustainability, creativity, homelessness and the community.

We are even more proud that so many celebrity chefs and food writers have donated their preserves recipes to Accumul8. Talented, creative figures such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Mark Hix, Dan Doherty, Matthew Fort, Marjorie Paulson, Thane Prince, Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall, Pam Corbin, Sarah Randell, Valentine Warner, Olia Hercules, Ghillie James, Vivien Lloyd. Many thanks to all of them. Please donate your preserve recipe too and be part of Accumul8’s work to help the homeless get a better future.