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Do I Know You? - a new perspective on homelessness

Posted By : Marie Thomas Tuesday 7th February 2017

Identity and homelessness lie at the heart of a new film installation that will be show in the Cathedral Cloisters from 2-8 March as part of our 2017 Memory and Identity theme.*

 

Susan Francis’ film installation Do I Know You? is part of a wider project called Word on the Streets, inspired by conversations and creative sessions carried out with homeless people in the Salisbury area over a period of eight years. 

Susan Francis, creator of Do I Know You?, said:

“I wanted to share what I had learnt from spending time with people who live on the street or are without a permanent home and who feel, as a result, that they have no real identity. On the street they are hidden in plain sight, either ignored or hurried past. When you have no address you lose your identity and place in society. This is not a choice people make, it is what happened to them.”

 

The installation in the Cloisters is based on the story of a homeless person that Susan has got to know in the course of her work. You hear his voice throughout the film but never see his face as Susan explains:

“I deliberately used his voice and not his image because I felt my story would be far more powerful if you only heard the subject’s words and didn’t form any preconceptions about him. In my film his words play over images of people listening and responding to his story – doing the opposite to television or photo journalism.

 

“Another striking thing that my conversations with him brought home to me was that, out on the street, the only time he felt he had a true identity was when someone spoke to him…and not many people do that.”

 

Composer Howard Moody, a former Cathedral chorister and Artistic Director of the music charity La Folia, created the music for the project, working with local musician Tim Byford and individuals living in shelters and on the streets in Salisbury.

 

Canon Robert Titley, Salisbury Cathedral’s Canon Treasurer and Chair of the Cathedral Art Advisory Committee said:

“Word on the Streets is a powerful concept and one that resonates with the gospels, which show Jesus speaking his word not in a pulpit but on the street and putting at the very centre of his attention people who are ignored, despised or on the edge of society. We hope that this project and the issues explored through our Memory and Identity year prompt us all - visitors and congregation - to listen for the voices from our streets, especially those whom our society is leaving out.”

 

As part of the same Word on the Streets project a series of short films by Susan Francis will be projected around the city centre as part of a special city walk. Those wishing to join in should meet at Salisbury Arts Centre at 19.30 on Wednesday 22 February where the tour starts.

 

A panel discussion entitled Upending the Pyramid will take place on Wednesday 1 March at 19:00 in the Salisbury Arts Centre. Panellists will discuss issues of identity and homelessness raised by Susan’s project, as well as exploring the role that art can play in raising and addressing those issues.

 

Do I Know You? will be place in the Cloisters during the annual Alabaré Sleep Out on Friday 3 March. Funds from the Sleep Out go towards the work Alabaré does with vulnerable and homeless people. Last year nearly 200 people took part.



Word on the Streets is funded by Arts Council England, an award from the Gane Trust, Salisbury Cathedral and Salisbury Arts Centre.

 

*Memory and Identity, our outreach and engagement activity for 2017, aims to explore and raise questions about memory and identity with individuals, groups and as a community. From lectures to art exhibitions, targetted projects to community activities such as music and film nights, the Cathedral plans to offer a wide range of opportunities for the congregation, schools, volunteers and visitors to explore these two powerful ideas both from a community perspective and a personal perspective, with a particular emphasis on dementia and mental health. The Cathedral’s archives, which serve as the memory of Cathedral itself and form part of its identity, are also being explored during the course of the year. Research projects, exhibitions and artistic responses connected to the archive are being planned, which will encourage the wider community to share in the Cathedral’s own memories.

 

For any other enquiries please contact Marie Thomas on m.thomas@salcath.co.uk or  01722 555148