Building on a previous project with Liverpool’s International Photography Festival, Tony Mallon delivered photography workshops at homeless shelters and photographed their ‘artificial homeliness’.
Building on my collaborative project, Home (part of LOOK/13, Liverpool’s International Photography Festival, 2013), Homeless moved beyond the human presence to explore, examine and document through photography and text, the spaces and experience of living in homeless hostels in Merseyside during 2014-15.
Homeless was part of LOOK/15, Liverpool’s International Photography Festival, 15-31 May 2015. A selection of the curated photographic work was displayed via:
A large scale public realm artwork sited temporarily on the facade of the former cinema, The Futurist in Liverpool City Centre.
A free tabloid size photographic newspaper.
A group exhibition titled ‘Group Therapy’ at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology).
A photographic newspaper was also distributed at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam (18-20 Sept 2015).
I documented eleven homeless hostels in Merseyside and the resulting photographs capture the clinical nature of these spaces and the occasional traces left behind by their inhabitants or former inhabitants. The work identifies absence; what is left out or what is left behind in institutions of care. In this series of work, I explore homeless shelters and there artificial ‘homeliness’. Guided by my work with the homeless, this work brings in to sharp focus the ‘institutional lives’ some homeless people are ‘lucky’ to have. The work asks us to question: how does our society treat the issue of homelessness?
An important element of the project was community engagement. I delivered six photography workshops at six homeless hostels, engaging socially excluded residents (some with mental health issues including drugs & alcohol misuse). Residents had the opportunity to assist me when I documented the hostels, this collaboration enabled spaces to be identified. The workshops allowed personal stories to be heard (a selection used in the newspaper) and provided the opportunity for many to use a digital camera and visit an art gallery for the first time.
“With my own personal experience, it’s easy to recognise the photos, the locations. But… it goes much further, much deeper than just that.
Perfect photography that doesn’t just show us an image, but places us in its context, helps you experience the loneliness, the fear, the release, the tension and recovery. Along with the written word (included with the newspaper) it does not fail to conjure the feelings I associate with homelessness. A rare talent, Tony Mallon, has let me re-visit the experience, without the major fear this time, of reality. Bravo” Edward, workshop participant and former resident of Wirral Ark homeless hostel.
Thank you to Edmund Clark who assisted in curating the work and the project was financially supported by Arts Council England through the National Lottery.
To see more of Tony Mallon’s work or to request a free copy of Homeless visit his website here.
Feature image by Tony Mallon: Homeless – Photographic Newspaper