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Utopia to me, would be a world where humans and nature live in harmony. A world where instead of destroying it, we work hand in hand together to make a better place in the future. A world free from judgement and violence. A world filled with love and joy.
Samuel, Accumulate participant 2022
What happens when you invite people with experience of homelessness to design and create models of their ideal world? The results can be seen in ‘Utopia: A New World for Everyone’, an exhibition by students of Accumulate, the Art School for the Homeless, produced in collaboration with St John’s Waterloo.
The exhibition will be on Thursday 7 July, 6.30pm – 8.30pm, The Warehouse, One Crown Place, 19 Sun Street, London EC2A 2FJ. There will be a chance to meet the students, hear their stories and talk to all involved.
Between April and June, the Accumulate students worked alongside architects from Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), creative arts and music tutors and practitioners to learn new skills and develop their creativity through the exploration of the theme of ‘Utopia - A New World For Everyone’. The Accumulate group, all of whom have lived experience of homelessness, also increased their self-confidence, wellbeing and sense of personal value by being involved with this project - helping them become more positive and, in turn, make more positive decisions in their lives and for their futures.
The project has revealed hidden talents and forged new understandings between all involved and for some students will result in fully funded scholarships to study on Access to Higher Education courses in Fine Art, Design and Digital Media, and Fashion at Morley College.
St John’s has a long association with homelessness and with its own visionary £5.2 million restoration project underway, thought that people affected by homelessness should also have an opportunity to work with architects to consider what makes for a perfect place. St John’s has also commissioned The Messengers, a 20-piece band made up of students and graduates from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and musicians with experience of homelessness, for a composition to accompany the Utopia project.
This will be performed at 7.30pm on Monday 11th July at Milton Court Concert Hall, Silk St, London, EC2Y 9BH together with other original songs by The Messengers.
Marice Cumber, Director and Founder of Accumulate, said: “The Utopia showcase celebrates the achievements of a group of people living in hostels and temporary accommodation who have increased their self-confidence, wellbeing and sense of personal value - helping them become more positive and make better decisions for their futures.
“With Utopia we were reversing the norm when it comes to deciding what a new world should look like. Our students, often the least likely to have a choice about their environment, were on an incredible creative learning journey, fully involved and taught by experts, and the results show what can be achieved through working together in partnership.”
Claire Pollock, Partnerships Lead at AHMM, said: “Allford Hall Monaghan Morris’ first collaboration with Accumulate students was an architectural drawing workshop in May 2020. Because of Covid, the format was a series of short videos on WhatsApp - but the sense of taking part together was powerful. Following this, we took part in Accumulate’s Train the Trainer programme, providing hostel support workers with skills and materials to create architectural environments that they could pass on to people living in temporary accommodation whose isolation was exacerbated by Covid restrictions. Inspired by these powerful engagements, we chose Accumulate as our 2022 AHMM London Charity of the Year.
“We’re delighted to have collaborated on ‘Utopia: a new world for all’ and to be funding one of the scholarships at Morley College. Our team members have shared their skills and knowledge with Accumulate participants, including modelmaking, architectural drawing and collage, and sustainability. And we have enjoyed getting to know the participants, supporting their individual interests and ways of working, and helping them create their own vibrant imaginary, utopian places.”
The Utopia workshops have been funded by generous grants from The Foyle Foundation and Arts Council England. The exhibition has been sponsored and designed by AHMM and HB Reavis has provided invaluable space to store materials and all the artwork and models created each week.
Tickets are free but must be booked in advance here.
Watch videos of Accumulate students talking about their utopias here.
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