London, 15 April, 2015. “Yesterday was the best day of my life since having my stroke back in April 2011. I’m feeling empowered to make a change! All it takes is one person to better another person, but if he can help 2 people and then they help 2 people each then it creates a wave! A wave of hope! That’s my gift! HOPE,” wrote David Tovey, London artist and photographer who helped us host the visitors last week after we farewelled the visitors at a brainstorming session at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation on Friday. Last week we believe that we gained a lot more than we gave when a group of Brazilian artists visited London in preparation for Rio 2016. The group of 14 Brazilians were hosted by Streetwise Opera who were instrumental in creating the London 2012 ‘With One Voice‘ performances, performing in the Royal Opera House for a 2012 Cultural Olympiad event. The London visit was also hosted by London ad Rio based People’s Palace Projects. The London 2012 legacy is now set to be repeated in Rio in 2016, led by this Brazilian delegation. The other homelessness organisations hosting last week were , Cardboard Citizens; Choir With No Name; Crisis Skylight; Open Cinema and Streetwise Opera. On Wednesday we spoke to more than a 120 London homelessness-sector representatives at City Hall. Cafe Art’s ROL spoke passionately about how he was able to help a friend suffering from cancer over Christmas because he had earned enough money selling the My London calendar. Cafe Art had the group on Friday and we showed them our local neighbourhood – Brick Lane. Starting at the Qbic Hotel, where our art is based in their basement, we showed the group the 2014 Cafe Art photography exhibition which is hanging in the hotel. After a 45-minute tour of local street art in Brick Lane we ended up at the Phoenix Blend cafe in Bell Lane, near Spitalfields. The day ended with six of our group joining the Brazilians and the host organisations for lunch and then an empowering and inspirational planning session. While the Brazilians came to learn from us, Cafe Art gained a lot, from learning about Sao Paulo’s Human Rights Festival which sounds fantastic, to the activism through art, especially Helder Oliveira’s mannequins made to look like homeless people which are placed in railway stations on the floor. Such simple activism that perhaps we could learn from. The joint Brazil / UK exhibition, which features one of Helder Oliveira’s mannequins, is now at Phoenix Blend Cafe, 29 Bell Lane, London E1. Closest tube stations Liverpool Street and Aldgate East.
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