'Black spirit of the city lights' by Troy Brabham
Launched by Rev Tim Costello on 4 August 2007
The idea for this photography project was born at the PILCH Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic in association with its Consumer Advisory Group in early 2007. The aim of the project was to go beyond merely reacting to homelessness and the problems associated with it such as poverty, poor health, discrimination and social isolation and to do something which celebrated the resilience, talent and humanity of people who have found themselves on the edge.
Over a period of six months, a group of nine people who have experienced homelessness, ‘the artists', captured images with digital cameras. The artists were paired up with professional photographers who provided mentorship, guidance and technical expertise. In many cases, they provided much more than that. For some, the partnerships resulted in relationships of genuine respect, trust and friendship.
The project was embraced by the Future Focus Group from the Committee for Melbourne, a team of young business leaders from a diverse range of public and private organizations who came together with PILCH, the artists, the mentors and many other volunteers to make the project happen. Perhaps they were unlikely couplings - lawyers, engineers, curators, photographers, accountants - but the project was a wonderful and much needed example of how the community and corporate sectors can work together to effect change. The project also shows the importance of working with and not just for those who are affected by homelessness and other forms of disadvantage.
In the last few years the Melbourne's Choir of Hard Knocks have opened peoples' ears. Through this project and the resulting images we sought to open peoples' eyes. The people who took the photographs are talented, resourceful, hopeful people. They are people, who, for any number of reasons, have experienced homelessness and have been made more vulnerable to the hurts of the world. But they are people who have shown great strength, resolve and perseverance in the search for a sense of security, safety and belonging.
As a society we must show the same resolve. We are a wealthy country in material terms, yet surely our riches must also be measured by how we respond when wrongs are done, endemic suffering exposed, when injustice is discovered or opportunity denied. As one of the artist commented during the project: ‘as a society sometimes we seem to have lost our way, we seem to have lost of our spirit of generosity'. We hoped that this project and the images from the exhibition may help bring it back.
Many of the images displayed at the exhibition in 2007 are available for purchase from the artists, who can arrange to have them printed for you. If you are interested in purchasing any of the artworks from the exhibition please contact the HPLC on 8636 4408 or email@example.com.