Over the summer I had the opportunity to work with artists Julia Grime and Phil Davenport on their exhibition ‘Refuge from the Ravens’ which reimagines a new version of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, by people who have experienced homelessness.
We wandered to the sleeping spots and urban spaces that people with no fixed abode find themselves in. As I sat with Big Issue venders in Manchester city centre, filming their perspective, I got to see a different view of society. Thousands of people literally ignoring you can be hard to sit through, but while life on the streets is truly tough, it turns out there are tender moments that cut through the indifference. Some of the stories of humanity shining through, will never leave me. Like the story of the bouncer who let a homeless kid kip in a safe spot at night in 1970s Manchester and brought him maths workbooks. Without those few acts of kindness that kid might not have made it through to adulthood.
Songs were written and recorded, interviews captured, and field recordings were made by Sofie Cooper who also masterfully weaved all the audio together for a surround sound installation. I was editing blind, I roughly knew what the soundtrack was going to be, but because of the nature of the installation, I tried to create an edit that would compliment ‘happy accidents’ rather than following a set soundtrack as such and true to so much of my work, it ended up taking on a dreamlike quality.
Grime and Davenport’s working method has created a series of impactful impressions and perspective on homelessness that are punctuated by moments of tenderness.