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A place for everything: a creative exploration of homelessness

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Words
Sharlene King
Published
19 October 2011
Results of a creative investigation into home and homelessness go on show when ‘A place for everything’ opens in Lismore at Southern Cross University’s next Art Gallery on Thursday night, October 20.

The ‘A Place for everything’ exhibition stems from the HOME Project collaboration between the University’s School of Arts and Social Sciences and NORPA (Northern Rivers Performing Arts).

The exhibition features work created by the University’s media students during National Homeless Persons' week in August this year.

“Homelessness is a difficult topic. It’s one of these taboo areas and we weren’t sure how people would deal with that sensitivity,” said Dr Grayson Cooke, Home Project facilitator and senior lecturer in the University’s School of Arts and Social Sciences.

“But people got over that quickly and were willing to be involved and talk to us.

“And even when the process became emotionally difficult for some people, there was still a sense of these stories needing to get out. This kind of reflection proved valuable.”

As part of the project, community members and support workers in the Lismore region were invited to share their stories about home and homelessness, about place and what it means to them – with their responses captured in photographs, audio and video in a specially designed film set.

More than 100 people took part.

The ‘A place for everything’ exhibition comprises three sections:

Up Against It: A video featuring performances and discussion by members of the Winsome Gospel Choir. The video will be projected life-size on the rear wall of the Gallery at night.

Where You Stand: An interactive exhibition of 50 photographs displayed along the Gallery walls with accompanying individual audio devices. In response to the question, ‘If you had a statue made in your honour, what would it look like and where would it be placed?’ participants stood on a plinth and posed as their statue. View a sample of their responses.

Lounging Around: Three short films displayed on monitors. For this part of the project a lounge was placed in the alleyway beside the Gallery and turned into a film set. Participants were asked a series of questions about home, place and belonging.

NORPA artistic director Julian Louis said while there were frameworks in place ultimately the HOME Project took on a life on its own.

“We allowed the community to develop the content and the narrative through their own ideas and their own stories,” Mr Louis said.

“It was exciting to see how responsive the community was to our invitation. It is these sorts of projects that continue to make art in dynamic and relevant ways.”

Zoe Robinson-Kennedy, Stephanie Neill, Pat Madden and Alex Lewers were the four Bachelor of Media students engaged to implement the project and audio/visual activities.

“We certainly didn’t go in trying to make light of issues around homelessness," said Zoe Robinson-Kennedy. "It was about creating awareness and an engagement with the community. And I felt that we got that.

“It was an incredible opportunity and the projects generated a fascinating collection of materials. The results are a testament to the amazing community living in the Northern Rivers.”

‘A place for everything’ opens at 6pm on Thursday October 20. The exhibition runs from October 21 to November 3 at SCU next Art Gallery, 89 Magellan Street, Lismore, from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

The HOME Project is the first phase in a three-year collaborative research project between the University’s School of Arts and Social Sciences and NORPA, focussed on social, cultural and economic issues around homelessness, and encompassing enquiry in a range of disciplines including Sociology and the Creative Arts. The HOME project aims to raise awareness of issues around homelessness through a range of creative explorations and stories that can inform services and assistance for individuals affected by homelessness in the Northern Rivers, as well as other regional areas.
Photo: Where you stand ... Laurie Marriott’s statue

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