Home for All

We were delighted to be asked by the Learning and Participation team at the Walker Art Gallery to contribute a series of photographs to run as a parallel display to the Linda McCartney Retrospective exhibition. Our members attend weekly photography workshops with tutor Tony Mallon, who leads outreach sessions in hostels across the city region. Members rose to the challenge admirably and Tony was able to compile a series of photographs for the group to exhibit, under the title Home for All. A gallery of the photographs on display is below and a few extra images that we didn't have space for are also included in this article.

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Whilst Linda’s work often focussed on social commentary and the brutality of the meat industry, she juxtaposed these with beautiful, intimate images portraits of some of the luckier members of society - celebrities, artists, musicians. These photographs contrast sharply with the images featured in our exhibition, which document the harsh reality of the unloved, temporary hostels that our members sometimes find themselves ‘housed’ in.  

view of park through window

Looking out onto bowling green during lockdown by John McGlone

Our exhibition provides a counterpoint to Linda’s but there is much common ground too. These links are most evident in Linda’s portraits of marginalised communities which were inspired by Dorothea Lange. Linda helped to make those people visible – which is one of the things that we try to do at Crisis; ensuring that the marginalised members that we work with are seen and feel seen.

daffodil surrounded by grass

 Newsham Park by SR

Some of my favourite images of Linda’s are the intimate family shots – so ordinary. Paul bathing the kids, or pulling faces to make them laugh. Linda shielding one of her daughters against the cold, in a Wirral promenade shelter. Most of us will recognise these scenes within our own family photos but Linda’s eye for beauty, humour and the surreal give her images an unforgettable quality. Images of animals feature prominently in our exhibition as well as Linda’s. These too are family members. Two of our images feature a tiny baby budgie born during lockdown and a member’s beloved Staffie – the title of which is ‘Home is wherever you are’. 

pink toy guitar

Daughter's toy guitar inside flat during lockdown by Liam Hughes 

It’s been an interesting and enjoyable experience working on this project with the Walker. Many members of the homeless community are made to feel unwelcome in arts venues. Staff at the Walker have welcomed us in, sent us tickets to exhibitions and provided our members with the opportunity to participate in a photography masterclass. Our members are looking forward to coming along and seeing their work up in the same gallery as Linda McCartney’s major retrospective, not to mention the Walker’s permanent collection, including works by JMW Turner and John Everett Millais. 

squirrel by park railings

Squirrel at Newsham Park by SR

I’d like to thank our photography tutor Tony Mallon and all our members for their hard work in producing this work. It’s a tough call to create art in hostel settings. But Tony and our members always strive to work imaginatively with everyday objects close to hand, and to use these objects creatively. These photographs largely depict the institutional settings that members find themselves placed in. Not a home exactly, more a temporary holding place. As we emphasise in our programme notes: "The ‘homes’ in this exhibition are temporary, we need to make them permanent." Please support us and help to make this a reality.   

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