Over the course of several months we realised how much our lives had overlapped geographically in the past.
We knew the same parks, benches, pubs and streets and started to record one another talking about our experiences.
Outsiders, is a concentrated but verbatim account of mutual storytelling that reveals how housing and community are connected.
Throughout the 90’s Gerald collected his dole money and counted it out in cans and cigarettes. He’d get his giro from the Job Centre on Elthorne Road opposite the art school I went to in 2003.
Gerald never had a sleeping bag and considered anything other than the clothes he was wearing a burden. He’d seek out open spaces and find a hidden corner. He slept round the back of churches and in parks, but never in doorways or arches.
The way Gerald describes 10 years of Ascetical homelessness is complicated by and paradoxically linked to his drinking. Gerald’s freedom from attachment, aspiration and judgment is something few of us in London can comprehend.
His descriptions of a drinker’s community are familiar but crucially detached from normative culture.
Our lives had been separated by time and circumstance but were connected in the present in a way that cast metaphysical significance over the past.
He listed all the places he used to stay in and we discovered that we know the same streets, the same pubs and the same parks. I visited them and painted them on beer mats.
The paintings are filmed in and around the Limehouse warehouse I lived at from 2015 – 2016.
The look and feel of the spaces filmed resonates with the painted and narrated places in the film, but are separated by time and location, making an impression rather than a documentation of a city.
Market forces and property development decisions beyond my control led to the eviction of all residents from the warehouse.
My housing eviction also ended my residency at Mildmay Park and demonstrates how housing and community are multiplicatively connected.
Mildmay Park Care Home
From August 2015 to April 2016 I had a studio in Mildmay Park extra care home, Islington, London (through Cubitt Gallery and Notting Hill Housing Trust).
Mildmay Park Care Home
Over the course of the year I got to know all of the residents through sharing time in the studio, in their homes and or on trips and events. I worked on a regular basis with several residents and I developed a strong collaborative connection to one resident named Gerald.
Collaborating with Gerald
Gerald and I met in September 2015. Mildmay Park was his first home since his stroke 12 months earlier.
Gerald’s experiences of a decade of homelessness and subsequent residence at an extra care home became a strong area for creative collaborative exploration.
The co-creative process and the work
Developing co-creative processes with Gerald that hinged on high levels of care, parity and having fun offered us a way to explore the subject of institutional care with respect and ethical, creative and critical insight.
The mutual trust we built enabled us to co-create work in a way that helped us each of us develop new narrative and creative perspectives on our very different, but resonant experiences of restriction, isolation and freedom in London.
Collaborating with Gerald each week inspired regular social surrealism (‘A Day Without Laughter is Wasted’) a performative event (‘Take Me Home’) and a film (‘Outsiders’).