Phoenix Blend cafe is currently hosting a selection of black and white photographs from the MyLondon collection. The set of seven photos were taken over the past few years by people who have experience homelessness. They were taken on one-time use cameras in a the My London Photography Contest and all of them were in the annual My London exhibition by Cafe Art. The exhibition is part of a research project by King's College student Silvia Tudini. The selection of seven images are: All In by Amadeus Xavier Quadeer (2014)
Steve and Tony sit on this Islington Green bench often, says Amadeus Xavier Quadeer. ‘I gave them an incentive: “If I win a prize, you get 20% - and they were up for it! So the words on the bus are quite appropriate!’ Amadeus, who originates from the Midlands but has lived in London since the ‘60s, says art is therapeutic, adding it calms him and allows him to interact socially with all types of people. His UK clothing business was affected by production moving offshore. ‘I was a home-owner but my house got repossessed. When I was homeless SHP helped to re-house me in 2010.’ This image was February in the 2015 MyLondon calendar Friday Night by Kerri G (2013)
Friday Night by Kerri G.
This is a shot by Kerri G of Aza and Gab at the Haggerston in Hackney. Kerri had been in London for 10 years ‘with a couple of breaks in between’ when she took this. From Greenock, Scotland, she said she was ‘technically homeless’ from the age 16. ‘I squatted for a long time, then the government came along and squashed all of my rights. And then it became more and more precarious to squat so I ended up homeless.’ She was living in a St Mungo’s women’s hostel in Hackney when she entered the Café Art Photography Contest. She said her photography was self-taught and she has experimented with Polaroid cameras but finds they are expensive due to the price of film. This image was September in the 2014 MyLondon calendar Weed or Wit by Hasan Kayah (2014)
Hasan Kayah with his photo and the calendar it featured in.
Hasan Kahya asked Abdul to hold this sign in front of a Banksy mural near Turnpike Lane. It’s based on a Freudian idea: ‘If you try to suppress feelings of hurt and anger with intoxicants, it’s not socially useful. Whereas if you channel your anger and energy into art you will be elevated and it’s also socially useful.’ Originally from Cyprus, Hasan goes to The Connection and ARTfitzrovia. He says that Abdul, who is from Turkey, had a ‘habit’ but he’s reformed now, in part thanks to art. ‘Being older, with more experience, I try to give him some practical advice. I introduced him to ARTfitzrovia.’ This image was May in the 2015 MyLondon calendar Man with Dog by Erijo Evwierhoma (2013) Erijo Evwierhoma says, ‘He was character – a lovely chap’, adding it was taken at the base of a memorial just by Elephant and Castle. ‘It tells you the distance to Westminster.’ Erijo goes to St Mungo’s but recently he moved into his own property in Balham. ‘Before moving into St Mungo’s I was actually homeless on and off for about 8-10 years. Now I’m trying to work so I can keep from getting back there. I’m doing a bit of labouring at the moment, on a building site. Luckily for me – because when I was at St Mungo’s I tried really hard to retrain a little bit. So now I’m in my own place. I did my CSCS cards and stuff like that – you need it to get into a building site, the health and safety stuff. So hopefully it will work out.’ This image was in the 2013 MyLondon exhibition Sun on Stairs by Maya Simeon (2013) This shot was taken at the exact moment sunshine burst through the clouds above London. Photographer May Simeon said that she was just finishing off the film before the end of the contest and was struck by the sun on a staircase in the Skylight building on Commercial Street, Whitechapel. She says it had been a cloudy day and then all of a sudden the sun came out, so she took the shot. ‘The image symbolises hope to me. The darkness of the stairwell in contrast with the sunlight… Kinda thematic in a way, considering the name of this location (Skylight).’ This image was October in the 2014 MyLondon calendar Wild Ride by Krzysztof Wlodarczy (2013)Krzysztof Wlodarczy could not ignore the message. ‘There is the rubbish, and above it is the commentary.’ The shot was taken on Bowes Road on the North Circular between Haringey and Enfield, North London. ‘Every day it’s the same. Maybe only Monday and Tuesday every week is it clear’, says Krzysztof, who goes to Broadway London’s art group in Shepherd’s Bush. ‘I am showing the other London, not shown in guidebooks, albums, or postcards.’ He is an experienced photographer. ‘Once I had a camera, when I had a normal job,’ he says. He lost his job as a butcher two years ago while he was visiting Poland to help his mother who had had an accident. ‘I gave the camera to my children. I was planning on buying a new camera on my return to London. ‘he returned to London in February 2012 and is actively applying for work. ‘I find that when I apply for jobs they are more concerned about how old I am rather they how much experience I have. When I say I am 52 they say, “sorry, I need a younger person.”’ He says he is not going back to Poland because there is a shortage of jobs there and age discrimination would probably be the same, so he hopes to start his own business here. This image was May in the 2014 MyLondon calendar Summer Fountain by Brian Leach (2013) Brian Leach took this shot on the South Bank at the Festival of Neighbourhood. Brian, who goes to the festival summer, thought it would be a ‘good place to go’ with the contest camera. ‘The water just flows up from the pavement and people can walk though them or maybe even dodge through them. They are usually not even touching the actual spray of the fountain. I think a lot of the children in the photo were actually under [the water] because on the day this photo was taken it was a very hot day – going on 30 degrees.' Born in Cardiff, Brian has lived in London for 25 years and now considers it home. He’s been going to the Holy Cross day centre near Kings Cross ‘on and off regularly for 15 years now’. He says there’s always a lot of activity and a lot of people to make friends and talk with. He first started sleeping rough in the early ‘90s soon after he arrived in London. With no contact with his family for over 20 years he considers the people at Holy Cross as his family. He is a member of the art group which has had artwork hung in galleries including the Wallace Collection and the Horse Hospital. July in the 2014 MyLondon calendar All framed photos are £30 (£20 unframed). We are a social enterprise for people affected by homelessness. 50% of each sale goes to the photographer and 50% to the project.