An exhibition is set to reveal the artistic talent on Shrewsbury’s streets and give and insight into what it is really like to sleep rough and live with mental health issues.
Entitled ‘View from the other side of the street’, the Shrewsbury Ark’s exhibition features paintings, sculptures and prose produced by homeless members of our community, as well as character portraits by local artist Emma Eccles and photo-journalist Alex Gatenby.
The exhibition is in support of World Homeless Day and runs throughout World Homeless Week.
Held in three vacant shop windows between 5 – 8 October the exhibition has been produced in partnership with Shropshire County Council and sponsored by Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd.
Co-ordinated by Shrewsbury Ark volunteers, Mike Saull and Bill Sample, the exhibition has two main aims to highlight some of the issues those who are homeless now face and to thank the public for their on-going kindness, support and understanding.
The idea for an exhibition arose before the pandemic when The Ark ran regular art sessions for its clients. “There is lots of talent on our streets and with a gentle nudge in the right direction, our clients have produced some interesting pieces of work, boosting their self-worth and belief in themselves in the process,” explains Mike.
While flooding of The Ark’s premises in February destroyed much of the work produced over the last couple of years, a number of clients have created new paintings and sculptures, in a space kindly provided by the Prince Rupert Hotel, that will be on display. In addition, over the last couple of weeks, those on the street have produced a range of photographs to give us an insight into their days.
Artist Emma Eccles has contributed to the exhibition with a number of portraits of rough sleepers. The exhibition will reveal something of their back stories, helping explain the difficulties they have faced. “It has been a real privilege to sit down and listen to their stories and I hope they approve of my portrayals,” she says.
Other artists include a talented young man who suddenly found himself without a roof over his head when his job in the leisure sector went as the lockdown took hold. His prose and computer-generated artwork are a frank and honest look at how he coped with mental health issues over the period.
It is hoped the paintings and photographs will eventually be seen elsewhere in the county and will be displayed in the new Ark premises, as a reminder of this difficult period and a snapshot of today’s rough sleeper.