Artist in Residence, St Mungos, 2008-2103

From 2008-2013 I ran classes for homeless people at the St Mungos Hostel in Mare Street, Hackney, London. I worked with all ages from 18 to 70, and all levels of art interest/knowledge, from recovering addicts and mental patients who could barely hold a pencil, to accomplished artists who were putting portfolios together to apply for Central St Martins.

Some of our projects and achievements are listed below:

Regular weekly drop in classes:

  • 2-hour groups sessions, twice weekly, tailored to whoever turned up. Drawing, painting, collage, air-drying ceramics, screen-printing t-shirts, mosaics. Due to the inconsistency of clientele, classes evolved to suit their needs.

Special events:

  • Mural painting and barbecue day at the hostel. Over half of the hostel’s 60 residents joined in with adding to the wall art, and socialising.
  • Coordinated an outing to the National Gallery to view the Schwepps photographic prize. Staff photographers from the National Gallery then came to the hostel and ran a 2-day course in studio photography. Almost all the staff and clients joined in.

Exhibitions: 

  • Without Walls, 2012. A city-wide exhibition of work by artists who have been homeless, at the Guardian building, Kings Cross. Some of my students were selected for the exhibition.
  • LSE exhibition of art by homeless people and service users. 2011. Again my students were selected from a larger group of applicants.
  • I organised and regularly updated two display cases in the lobby of the hostel. i also framed and hung student work around the building.

Group outings: 

  • Southwark Cathedral, Museum of London, Royal Academy of Arts. Outings were sometimes part of London-wide trips run by Capital Arts for homeless and formerly homeless people. Projects included drawing in Southwark Cathedral, followed by an exhibition, and visiting the Royal Academy Summer show as an independent trip.

Publications: 

  • Students had worked regularly published in Homeless Diamonds, a periodical distributed around London.
  • A student was on the cover of the Big Issue

Photography: 

  • Applied for, and received,  a grant through the St Mungos client-led Outside In programme.
  • Acquired all equipment and materials, and installed a black and white analogue photography darkroom in the hostel. I wrote my own basic black and white photography course. We held outings around Hackney where we took photos, came back to the hostel, and developed and printed the photos.
  • I included digital photography and used a PC with the students, showing them basic photoshop editing skills.
  • Photography outings: International Women’s Day 2013, and St Mungos annual client conference days at Conway Hall
  • Women Through the Lens – Caribbean Photography. Documented this exhibition with some of my students at different St Mungos hostels, 2013.

Improvement through St Mungos training:

  • I completed the St Mungos course Leading Activities for Homeless and Vulnerable People, which included acquiring a better understanding of the aspects of leading activities for this group of people. Art related activities help clients build confidence, overcome isolation, and aid in recovery. A simple activity such as pottery can help give a client the focus and confidence to attend a more practical course such as literacy, bricklaying or painting and decorating, which would then lead to employment and a better future. 

Fundraising:

  • St Mungos abseil at Senate House, 2013.