New exhibition at Bombed-Out Church looks ‘beyond identity of homelessness’

Echoes of Liverpool
Date: 28/11/2018

“We just asked people ‘what are you interested in?’ – let them use their imagination. It was going beyond the label; becoming a share experienced.”

So says Jamie Barton, involvement coordinator at Liverpool Waves of Hope – an organisation that works with people who have experience of addiction, homelessness, mental-ill health and offending – of their latest project, Echoes Of Life.

The exhibition, at the Bombed-Out Church, showcases the collective work of artists, friends of the church, vulnerable people and even tourists. The exhibition promises to offer a glimpse of Liverpool ‘through the eyes of people on the fringe of society’.

The resulting art and creative writing has been attached to wooden boards and then stuck to the exterior of the church, while inside there will be live poetry readings and gatherings.

“It has a few aims,” says Jamie. “Firstly we want to go beyond the identity of homelessness: look beyond the label and say that the people who are homeless, addicted to drugs or have mental health issues are just stuck in the criminal justice system. But they aren’t just that, they have so much more to them.

“I’ve got lived experience of drug addiction and homelessness. About seven years ago I went into rehab and I ended up going to university to do drama and creative writing, to find out who I was, which is why I think this stuff is good for people. It’s hard to say, but I think this is something that people can find themselves in.”

The Echoes Of Life material reaches around the whole site at St Luke’s, the famous ‘Bombed Out Church at the top of Bold Street. Jamie is keen to point out the acre of art isn’t just about looking pretty though.

“We thought the Bombed-Out Church was a really relevant space because of its visual, homeless atmosphere. The setting inside and the way it looks, visually and symbolically, says so much and we thought it was thematically quite fitting with what we were trying to do.

“We wanted to start with one voice and turn it into a collective voice, letting it grow naturally into something else.”

“Homelessness is a problem, it’s not nice to see and we need to stop it happening, and to stop it happening we need to make things better for these people and give them a chance.”

Echoes of Life isn’t the culmination of the Waves of Hope Project though: “We have another project on the way which will be using the idea of folk-tales.

“We’ll be using people’s experiences and serious issues and turning them into fairytales. We want to try to create some performances, do some paintings…

“One example is a guy who went to prison and when he came out found out that his landlord had thrown all of his things away.

“He didn’t really mind about the furniture and stuff like that, but his passport, his photos and all his personal things were gone. How often does this happen to people? What’s the effect? It’s dehumanising really.”

Jamie hopes the exhibition leaves visitors with a different outlook.

“Look beyond what you see, because there are a lot of other issues going on beyond that chaos that you see in someone on the street. There’s a lot of history behind that so don’t always take it at face value.

“Homelessness is a problem, it’s not nice to see and we need to stop it happening, and to stop it happening we need to make things better for these people and give them a chance.”

• Echoes of Life
Bombed-Out Church
Until January 2019

Written by Jamie Tichborne

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