posted 3 May 2017, updated 18 May
Photo exhibit features works by guests
The Chelsea Methodist Church and Glass Door are hosting an exhibit of photographs taken by five individuals experiencing homelessness. The exhibit, entitled "A view from the street", is on display until 4 June at the church's ground-floor hall off the King's Road in Chelsea.
About 80 individuals -- including supporters, volunteers, locals and the Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea -- attended the opening reception on Monday, 15 May 2017.
"Words cannot express how moved I am by the response to the exhibit," says Guy Austin-Bride, the deacon at Chelsea Methodist Church. "To be able to give a voice to the voiceless, to be able to show such immense creativity and beauty from a community much derided and dismissed is the reason I feel called to work with the poor in London. Thank you for expressing your interest and showing your support."
All are welcome to visit Wednesday and Friday between 9:30 and 2:30pm, or immediately before and after 11am Sunday worship.
The project began by Guy giving disposable cameras to some of the men and women who use the church and charity's facilities. He encouraged them to record whatever they wanted before returning the cameras. Another photographer, Boris, already had his own camera, which he chose to use.
Boris was a photographer before he became homeless, and he says the ability to record and share his perspective has helped him feel like his old self. His photos include an image of a dog peering out at a ball beyond a fence, a broken bicycle tire, and a member-only sign. "I see exclusion, but I see beauty too," says Boris. He points to textures and a juxtaposition of blue and red repeatedly found in his works.
The Chelsea Methodist Church and Glass Door work in partnership to provide guests shelter, meals and the support needed to rebuild a life off the streets. The church hosts a daytime drop-in centre three days a week -- Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays -- where up to 100 individuals come to eat lunch, take showers, do laundry and more. Here, Glass Door caseworkers help the guests access jobs and housing.
The exhibit is curated by volunteer Chelsea-Louise Berlin, herself a photographer and visual artist. Chelsea, who has authored a book on the rave culture, says she is drawn to outsider perspectives and to images for how they have the potential to condense meaning. She references Henri Cartier Bresson as an inspiration, who said:
"Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes."
Photos from the opening reception can be found on Facebook.