Colchester Arts Centre Presents Street Photography Exhibition by Homeless Photographers

Colchester Arts Centre Presents Street Photography Exhibition by Homeless Photographers

As part of Colchester Arts Centre's Street Hunt project (which gives everyone the chance to win up to £10,000 by identifying Colchester Street names) an exhibition of extraordinary photographs of Colchester is being staged in the town's disused bus depot in Queen St. All the pictures have been taken by people who are homeless or have experience of homelessness.

Locally based professional photographers Xavier Marseilles and Jonathan Doyle gave a free week long photography course to service users of Beacon House, the Colchester charity that offers help and support to homeless people, those in insecure accommodation and those at high risk of homelessness.

At the end of the week cameras were given to Beacon House service users to take their own images around the town and 7 of these returned with images that have been selected to be printed and exhibited at a special in the town's Queen St Bus Depot.

In total there will be 21 vast (3m x 1.2m) images hung from the rafters of the depot.

The pictures in the exhibition show a variety of images from around the town taking in the often arduous reality of life on the street to the unadorned beauty of a swan on the River Colne.

One of the photographers, Amanda Curtis said 'My shots were taken on the High Street by Barclays - how ironic. It's easier to beg there to make money. You've got to have guts to beg. I could never beg. These boxes are gone now. Zone Wardens are clearing out and evicting people from their homes. That's how these spaces are thought of - home. There's an understanding amongst homeless people about whose is whose place.'

Vivienne Wiggins, CEO of Beacon House said 'This photography project has restored some of our service users self esteem. They were trusted with a camera. Their work was displayed to others. They could feel that they were contributing and had a value.'

Anthony Roberts of Colchester Arts Centre said 'I've lived and worked in Colchester for 26 years as Director of Colchester Arts Centre. In all that time I've never worked on a project that has opened my eyes quite so much. For me, these images act as windows into hidden stories. Stories that we feel more than see. Stories we can experience without judgment.'

A calendar featuring images from the exhibition will be made available from the exhibition opening on August 18th with all proceeds will going to support the work of Beacon House. Calendars will cost £10 each and will be available to buy on the 18th or via www.colchesterartscentre.com

Street Hunt is an artist led treasure hunt, with the chance to win up to £10,000, that is open to everyone to enter. Internationally renowned artist Joshua Sofaer has written a poem using Colchester street names and will publish a book of photographs showing the street signs and their surroundings but with the names removed. Participants need to work out what the missing names are and complete the poem in the book. The first person to submit a correctly completed book wins the cash prize. The prize will be the amount of total book sales with a guaranteed minimum of £1,000. It could be as much as £10,000 if all 1,000 books are sold for the full price of £10. The book will be published on 16 September but can be pre-ordered now for collection from Red Lion Books on Colchester High St.

Other Street Hunt projects include a season of special film screenings at Queen Street Bus Depot, all with a thematic link to the project and a series of guided street walks to help Colchester residents get more out of their town and understand different aspects of it. http://www.streethunt.co.uk/

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