In late 2019 I was awarded the Guardian/Joseph Rowntree Foundation Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Over the next year I plan to use the award to continue a long-term project I began working on in a self-initiated capacity last year. The end result will centre a moving image work which will be released by the Guardian.
Since summer 2018 I have been spending time with a group of young people (14-21) in Stoke on Trent, UK, who are either homeless or who have recently experienced it.
At the centre of the project is an artists’ film made in collaboration with that shifting group of young participants. The intention was to make a small-scale work that spoke to an audience who are not familiar with their way of life, and for the group to feel represented on screen in a genuine way.
I taught members of the group how to use high-end film equipment, which we often operated together. Alongside this I led informal workshops in photography and creative writing, and participants documented their own lives using 35mm photography and disposable cameras, showing what they’d done to the rest of the group each week. We watched films about homelessness and precarity, and talked about the way people in their situation are represented. Participants led a small tour of places they slept around the city, and wrote bits of text to those in the outside world who haven’t experienced the things that they have.
The overwhelming feeling I had from the young people who took part was a desire to be seen as human beings - people who laugh, cry, are angry and happy, and who have unique experiences and something to say. I tried to make a piece of work which did some justice to that.
Over the next year we’ll be working together to create a larger work, which will be broadcast through the Guardian’s online channels.
There is already a short proof-of-concept video and a series of photographs that have come from the project so far. They’re sensitive because of copyright and safeguarding issues. If you have the password then please click the button below and enter it when prompted. If you don’t have the password but would like to see the film then please get in touch here.