PHOTOGRAPHY, visual art films, creative workshops and open mic sessions are among the highlights of a nine-day homeless-themed festival at a variety of venues across Coventry.
Home: Art and Homelessness gets under way on Friday (October 8), two days before World Homeless Day on Sunday.
The week-long celebration of art presents work by local and international artists all with one thing in common – they are all currently or have previously been homeless.
The festival is being held in conjunction with Coventry being the UK City of Culture and also features the 2nd International Arts and Homelessness Summit from October 11 to 13 at the Methodist Central Hall. Delegates from across the UK and the online global community will share practice, ideas and policy.
Here are the other events taking place around the city:
- ‘Agency’ continues Anthony Luvera’s ongoing work with people experiencing homelessness in towns and cities around the UK for the past 20 years. Throughout 2021 he invited participants to document their experiences by using disposable or digital cameras. The final images will be exhibited along Warwick Row – a road containing many estate agents – from Friday to October 28.
- ‘Art = Home’ is a visual art exhibition at the Belgrade Theatre from Friday to October 16. Visual works from Coventry artists who have experienced homelessness will sit alongside pieces created by international artists who have also lived on the streets.
- The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency’ – from this Saturday to next, October 9 to 16 – on the Belgrade Theatre’s main stage. This feelgood musical tells the story of a group of revolutionaries, artists and free-thinkers who created the world’s first estate agency for squatters, offering free housing for those in need. It is set during the 1970s at a time of community and DIY activism and was written by Coventry-born playwright, Sarah Woods. 10 per cent of tickets to Ruff Tuff are available at £1 to people with lived experience of or at risk of homelessness. For further information on the scheme or to access tickets, contact: Hadassah@cardboardcitizens.org.uk
- West Midlands Police Museum and Coventry City of Culture Shop will host the Send a Smile Postcard Exhibition until next Saturday, October 16. The ‘send a smile’ project began in Coventry during the pandemic and saw postcards sent to homeless communities across the world, including America, Brazil, South Africa, India, Japan and Australia. Developed by Underground Lights with support from Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, Arts & Homelessness International, The Belgrade Theatre and Crisis, this international project was designed by Hayley Harman and Beth Fiducia-Brookes as a way to engage creatively with people experiencing deep isolation in hostels during lockdown. In an aim to get these people thinking about smiling in the hope that this would bring them joy, participants were encouraged to decorate postcards as a way of recording their feelings of joy. After its success in Coventry, the project was extended to communities around the world, with some of these postcards now being displayed at the HOME festival.
- ‘Art is Where the HOME is’ creative hub at the Methodist Central Hall and Coventry City of Culture shop from Monday to Saturday, October 11 to 16, will welcome everyone to drop-in to either venue to take part in a range of activities while chatting to people involved in developing the HOME Drop. Among the activities are printing T-shirts, making bracelets, learning the guitar and pebble painting.
- The ‘HOME Variety Showcase and Open Mic Night’ takes place at Coventry Central Library on Sunday, October 10, celebrating the talent across the city’s homeless community.
- And a variety of movies will be on offer during the Home Grown Film Night at The Box, FarGo Village, on Tuesday, October 12. Each of the short films have a homeless theme. The films on offer include:
Grand Union: Growing Project – Filmed in Birmingham during Spring 2021, over 4 different locations, the film captures the real life stories, dreams and achievements of the people involved in the project, from participants, artists, gardeners and volunteers to the organisations underpinning the work. The garden becomes a place of shared stories, plant growing, food making, and also sanctuary, recovery and meaningful Production.
Foleshill Community Garden: Cultivating Wellbeing – The film ‘Cultivating Wellbeing’ captures the story of the Foleshill Community Centre Foodbank and Social Supermarket and its community garden. Participants gather at least once a week to do various activities in the garden, learn to grow vegetables from seeds to harvest and cook a meal to be shared at the end of the session. The project started in the midst of the first lockdown and considerably improved mental wellbeing of its participants by allowing them to have a safe, green space to gather.
David Tovey’s new work: Unknown Soldier – In 2019 it was reported that 16,000 ex-servicemen were homeless or in prison. Artist and Campaigner David Tovey used to be one of them. In a new landmark piece, you will journey through the life of the ‘Unknown Soldier’, a work that has been in the making for 29 years. In this powerful film and performance, Tovey draws you into a psychological space of made up of his own experiences of homelessness, attempted suicide and serving his country.
A powerful film provides a disorientating and stark backdrop to a performance blending ambient sound, spoken interview, historical archive footage and moving image to explore homelessness, alcoholism, addiction and the life of a homeless soldier. To accompany the film, David performs and narrates the journey of a soldier and his battle with mental health, PTSD and homelessness. The whole experience guides us through memories lost as David takes the ultimate decision to end his life. It is raw, uncompromising and brutal.
The Shed: Underground Lights – “The Shed” is a short filmed project starring Michael Green and the voices from a wide range of our community in Coventry who have experienced homelessness. The film is directed by Francesca Robson, filmed by Ryan Christopher and paired with a new fresh beat from Wes Finch all commissioned by Underground Lights Community Theatre and funded by the Heart of England Community Foundation (Road to 2021 grant).
Visit coventry2021.co.uk for more on the events and to book tickets.