Unframed Lives is a photographic exhibition, panel event and installation for Brighton Fringe in May 2019. It’s a creative collaboration between people who have experienced homelessness, artists, and researchers and they are delighted to be showing the work and holding a special panel discussion at One Church.
The collective is formed of two projects; research-based photo elicitation co-organised by PhD student Bruno De Oliveira and photographer Lee Radford, and MYBRIGHTON & HOVE Photo Project. For the photo-based research, they have been running photographic workshops via a partners’ organisation for those who choose to share their lived experiences, alongside building a photo elicitation research document exploring homelessness and the welfare state under austerity.
These images and stories will be presented, alongside an ongoing piece of work that was initiated with the MYBRIGHTON & HOVE Photo Project a social enterprise founded in 2018 by artist Lucy Groenewoud and run by volunteers. The project supports people with lived experience of homelessness to share their narrative and unique viewpoints with a wider audience. Participants were inspired to carry on their creative journeys with by a photography mentoring group and the images shown as part of Unframed Lives are a result of this exploration. On Fri 17 May (6.30-9.30pm), the exhibition hosts an evening of meaningful discussion, impactful networking, and innovative co-produced problem-solving. It will be exploring how creativity can play a role in challenging views on homelessness, along with offering a panel discussion with members of the Unframed Lives collective.
BN1 caught up with MYBRIGHTON & HOVE’s Bruno De Oliveira and Lucy Groenewoud to find out more about the project.
How would you describe the work you’re bringing to Brighton Fringe?
Lucy: All imagery has been devised and created by people who have been affected by homelessness. We are displaying our photographs and words at One Church allowing the public to interact and respond to these images, and bring an alternative narrative to perceptions of homelessness in the city. Our aim is to give a creative platform for people who have experienced homelessness, and a chance to share their journeys and histories to an audience who they may not normally reach. We hope this will lead to enact some social change in the city and open a dialogue of shared experiences.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?
Lucy: We would like to open a meaningful discussion in the city around creativity and homelessness. Can art be used as a tool to connect people, to share viewpoints and commonalities? We will we working with Ambigo after our panel event on the 17 May to facilitative a meaningful problem-solving workshop to explore ways creativity can be used to change views on homelessness in Brighton and Hove. In this workshop, we will help each other start to realise and develop ideas. We hope the audience will continue to interact and develop ideas during the course of the exhibition,
Bruno: What if art and research could be used as a form of prevention, as a space for people experiencing homelessness to empower themselves? The Unframed Lives, designing a participatory action research project that invited those with lived experiences of homelessness to contest social discourses related to housing, austerity and homelessness.
What do you think makes Brighton Fringe special?
Lucy: Brighton Fringe brings together a huge variety of art forms in an inclusive and immersive month of performance and art. We are excited to be part of Brighton Fringe, and part of the creative dialogue with lots of other amazing performances and events.
Being part of the Brighton Fringe gives the photographers who have taken part in this project opportunities to be part of the creative community in Brighton and Hove, meeting other artists and feeling connected to creativity in the city.
Bruno: While small, this project explores how art & research can be used not only as a tool for knowledge creation, but also in-and-of-itself as a space for empowerment.
What can art offer modern society?
Lucy: Our collective is formed of, and works with, people who have been affected by homelessness. Last year, when we ran MYBRIGHTON & HOVE Photo Project many of the participants spoke of the project inspiring them creatively, whilst benefitting their mental well-being. One participant said: “I have a history of mental health issues, anxiety and depression. Taking part gave me a sense of purpose, something to work on – trying to capture Brighton and Hove in a photo.”
If art can positively impact the creator, while also allowing the viewer a window in to the artists world that opens up a dialogue or new understanding then art can have the potential to create social change in modern society.
Bruno: People experience hardship, but hardship is not experienced in the same way. Our project is of a tiny scale, but sheds light that links people on the lived-experiences of hardship can be as a result of institutional practices. The lived experiences of people can be a by-product of policies. For example, part of this project focuses on the lived experiences of people who have experienced homelessness as they encountered the likes of as Universal Credit interview and outcome, the health condition of people claiming Universal Credit and the interactions of welfare claimants with support services.
MYBRIGHTON & HOVE Photo Project exhibition, Unframed Lives, comes to One Church Brighton on Mon 13 – Fri 31 May 2019 (open Mon – Fri 12–3pm). One Church Brighton is at Gloucester Place, Brighton BN1 4AA