Tag Archives: homelessness

Zoom, Lino Cuts And Digital Exclusion

22 Apr

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Today was a mixed bag with Zoom meetings (how quickly have we taken to Zoom?), an allotment visit, finished cutting a small lino block and marked up two more, made soup and biscuits and then had an hysterical family ‘pub’ quiz on Zoom. It’s been so good to be able to keep in touch through IT, but there are still so many people who don’t have that option and are going through the lockdown alone.

There’s a lot of work going on in this city to get homeless people into housing and to support those who are isolated, but this emergency has highlighted how many rely on libraries or others to connect to the Internet. Some people are living on their own, shopping on their own, going out to exercise on their own, without the Internet, without human contact, week after week. Digital exclusion doesn’t just affect people’s life chances but also their health.

 

tunnocks

Tunnocks Teacakes. No reason, they just look nice.

Isolation

16 Apr

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I chose another word to carve into a small lino block today. I’d been playing around with lots of words and phrases that have become associated with the pandemic lockdown. But it isn’t just about choosing random text, but words that have some meaning and resonance for me. The first word I cut and printed onto a mask was “isolate” which was pretty much the first message of the lockdown. But I work part-time for a homelessness charity and as the weeks have gone by I have come to realise that for some people “isolate” has become “isolation” and is hard to cope with.

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Many charities, alongside the statutory services, are working flat out to develop different, safe and effective ways of supporting the most vulnerable people in society. If you have some time to spare, please check out some of their websites to see what they do.

crisis

Photograph from the Crisis website

Home Comforts

21 Mar

soup chorizo and butter bean

 

I’ve been getting busy in the kitchen instead of getting on with arty stuff. I think the whole coronavirus business is focusing me on making things as comfortable as possible at home. I’m one of the lucky people who isn’t in a high risk group so I can still get out and do a bit of shopping, for myself and others, exercising caution of course. Although there’s a lot of panic buying in the supermarkets, local shops and the brilliant Swansea Market are still pretty well stocked. So I’m shopping local, buying fresh and home cooking.

 

soup pea and ham

 

The weather’s taking a cold turn as well, so it’s time for hearty stews; root veg, butter bean and chorizo (top) and pea, ham and root vegetable (above). Husb and I are lucky that we have a home and cooking facilities – towns and cities across the country are making emergency provision to feed people who are homeless and insecurely housed. If you’re able to get out to do some shopping, please don’t forget to pick up something extra to contribute to your local food banks – in Swansea there are collection points in Morrisons (Morfa), Coop (Bus Station) and Sainsburys that I know of. Thank you xx

 

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If you are healthy and able to do a little more, volunteers are needed to help provide for homeless people – contact details on this leaflet xxx

 

A Benchmark Of Home

28 Feb

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I went to the opening of the new  exhibitions at Elysium this afternoon. The larger gallery is devoted to work by the resident artist Mark Folds, called Crises, while the smaller gallery has three large-scale pieces made by members of Crisis, the homelessness charity, called “Benchmarks”.

Benchmarks 3

Mark has been working with five people who have experienced homelessness, using materials usually associated with home – wood, benches, carpets, beds – to produce these life size artworks.  

Benchmarks 1

 

The title of this show, Benchmarks, means something that serves as a standard by which we measure or judge others. And other people are often very quick to judge those who are or have been homeless. But also, homeless people are often not noticed, are hidden, are ignored because so many others are complacent about it.

Benchmarks 4

Crisis is an organisation that recognises the importance of creative activities in helping people to move into a stable lifestyle, supporting many creative tutors across the UK in visual arts, crafts, music and creative writing. and recognising how the arts can be used to educate people and improve skills as well as offering people something to do with their time.

The exhibition runs until April 18th at 210, High Street SA1 1PE.

What’s That When It’s At Home?

24 Nov

I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for decades, just getting on with it, doing my art, mostly sketchbooks from reality, life drawing and printmaking, while working with marginalised people – the homeless and the drug and alcohol dependent. As far as I was concerned, these were not two different things, but are inter-dependent. When people asked what I did, it took ages to explain. Now, apparently, I’m a socially engaged artist. So there we are.

Afghan refugee children

It isn’t just about how I integrate living as an artist with working with people at the edge of society – it also informs the artwork I do. For example, I made this monotype (above) from my first visit to Pakistan over a decade ago now. It was a relatively peaceful period and we were visiting the Khyber Pass and I was inspired by Afghan refugees travelling back to their homes.

walking to greenham

In my sketchbooks, I draw from real life, both the ordinary that’s around me every day and the special events like demonstrations and meetings. Here’s a drawing I did on the march to commemorate Greenham Common back last year.

Here Be Dragons small

Sometimes my work is directly political, like “Here Be Dragons” that was commissioned last year by Sky Arts TV channel.

Flag final

And the flag of Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd designed for the AUOB Cymru marches.

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Recently, I’ve become an artist-in-residence and researcher in the FIRE Laboratory in Swansea University’s Department of Bioscience, working at the interface between art and environmental science.

Or I just draw people getting on with their lives on the streets of Swansea….

 

So when people ask what I do, now I say “I’m a socially engaged artist” and they go “So what’s that when it’s at home then?”

 

And it takes ages to explain …..

Splatter!

14 Oct

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I work part-time for a national homelessness charity, just a few hours a week where I run fine art courses for people who use the service. Today I started an acrylics painting course. I like to jump straight in with something practical so I did a group abstract painting exercise. After a quick explanation of what ‘impasto’ is, I laid a canvas roll onto the table and everyone – there were six of us – grabbed a pot of Daler Rowney System 3 paint and, using either a palette knife or fingers (rubber gloves provided), splattered paint onto the canvas as we walked around the table.

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After we’d all done one circuit, we changed our pots of colour and went round the table again, splattering as we went. And a few more times, building up random layers of colour. Finally, we put the paint down and spent a minute or so scraping and scratching through the paint layers, revealing the colours underneath.

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Then we used some old window mounts to look through and work out the compositions we liked best. This led to a discussion about what makes good art – controversial – and I’d taken some examples of Jackson Pollock’s work to look at, to get a theoretical and historical perspective.

The Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint, mixed with screenprint medium, was kindly donated by Swansea Print Workshop. They let us have acrylic paints left over after their screenprint courses, which is great because they’re expensive quality paints. We worked in a room kindly lent by the National Waterfront Museum.

A Crafty Afternoon

19 Mar

 

Herb bottle 1

I work a few hours a week for a charity that supports homeless people, teaching crafts and fine art. Today I had a crafty afternoon. I try to make the craft sessions relevant to people, making practical things that they can use in their new home when they get housed. We recycled plastic drinks bottles – around 1.5 litre capacity and, with gardener’s jute twine, we made macramé herb bottles that people can hang up in their kitchens. I bought a selection of supermarket living herbs – coriander, parsley and basil. Here’s one I did as a demonstration and here it is below as a snake-like work in progress.

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Motivation

6 Jun

Pop Art Head 1

I work part-time for a charity for people who are homeless, delivering art and craft sessions in different venues across the city. It’s much easier to engage people in crafts than in fine art, crafting seems to be more accessible and less threatening. I try out different things to motivate people who don’t think that they can paint or draw or sculpt to engage with art. I recently ordered a stencil book,  bought in some small square canvasses and did a quick little stencil painting during today’s session. It certainly attracted a lot of attention.

Pop Art Head 2

I used a stencil brush to put on the basic image in black acrylic (Liquitex Heavy Body) and while it was drying I cleaned the stencil on a piece of blue kitchen towel with a wet-wipe. I really like the ethereal image that appeared on the towel. Then I added some brush strokes in light blue and orange to give it a 1960s Pop Art feel. It was very quick and showed people how they could think about using stencils and paint to create artwork for their new homes. It also taught people quite a bit about how to use paint, without them realising it. I’m not a big fan of painting but I really like the Liquitex, it’s very strongly pigmented and can be thinned out to use in translucent washes, as with the stripes, or used fairly impasto, as I did with the stencil.

 

WAM night June 2018

Home Comfort

21 Mar

Sparta 2018

In times of stress and worry, I retreat into my home. It’s my cave, my fortress, my refuge and my comfort. I close the door on the bad old world outside and batten down the hatches to weather any storms that life throws at me. My chubby cat, Sparta Puss is an integral part of my home comfort. She sits and purrs and brings a feeling of peace and calm and normality.

I work part-time for the homelessness charity, Crisis, as a fine art tutor and I really appreciate how lucky I am to be able to go to my own home which is safe and secure and warm and dry. I am lucky that I don’t have to endure living in a war zone or a refugee camp. The insecurity and stress of not having anywhere to call your own, not being able to close your door onto the outside world and feel safe, it is awful.

To find out more about the work done by Crisis, please click here.

Kindness And Generosity

7 Jan

nativity

 

Last week I said about the charity collection box that was stolen from the nativity scene in front of the Unitarian Church on Swansea’s High Street. The church was raising money for a homelessness charity this year and has had a nativity in a large glass case every Christmas for decades, since I was a very small child. My Mam and Nana and aunties would take me, my little sister and cousins to see it and I remember being so excited, it brought it home to me that it was Christmas. Well, the church set up a crowdfunding appeal to replace the £200 or so that was lost and thanks to peoples’ kindness and generosity, has raised over six times that amount. Please click here if you’d like to donate.

I stopped by and scribbled, en plein air, one of the nativity figures in white, sanguine and black conté crayon into my A4 brown paper sketchbook. For many years, European art colleges taught partly through the copying of classical statues. I find it so difficult to copy another artist’s work and style, the urge to put my own stamp on it is too great, I’m afraid.

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