Anthony Luvera’s pioneering project in collaboration with people experiencing homelessness in Birmingham

CONSTRUCT is a pioneering new photography project from artist Anthony Luvera, commissioned by GRAIN Projects and presented in partnership with Colmore BID and SIFA Fireside. The public realm exhibition will feature 21 new Assisted Self-Portraits made in collaboration with people experiencing homelessness in Birmingham.
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Luvera is an internationally acclaimed artist and a leading practitioner in socially engaged
practice and working with people experiencing homelessness. He began working with
participants in the city, with the charity SIFA Fireside, in 2018, leading conversations and
workshops which involved inviting people to make their own photographs and to think about
representation and identity through portraiture.


Artist Anthony Luvera said: ‘CONSTRUCT is the progression of the ongoing work I have
made with people experiencing homelessness around the UK since 2002. The way I work is
socially engaged. That is, I spend time volunteering in support services developing
relationships with the people with whom I work, inviting them to develop skills, to use
equipment to record their experiences and the things they are interested in, and to co-create
images with me. Over the years, I’ve collaborated with hundreds of individuals and through
this process I’ve collated thousands of photographs, video, sound recordings, and other pieces
of ephemera created by participants that express their points of view, and visualise
experiences of some of the most marginalised people in society
.’


CONSTRUCT was created between 2018 and 2022 with over 50 people experiencing
homelessness in Birmingham, commissioned by GRAIN Projects. In the first year the artist
spent time getting to know the staff and individuals associated with SIFA Fireside, a charity
that supports homeless people in leading healthier and happier lives, by working in the kitchen
and serving meals. He then invited people to take cameras away to capture their experiences,
meeting with participants regularly to discuss their images and to record conversations. During
the Covid pandemic and associated lockdowns, workshops and conversations were continued
online. Luvera also invited participants to learn how to use digital medium format equipment,
to create an Assisted Self-Portrait. To make an Assisted Self-Portrait, the artist meets regularly
with the participant in locations that are significant to the individual. The final images for use
in exhibition and publication are selected by the participant.


Luvera’s 21 portraits will be exhibited on a bespoke exhibition structure in Snow Hill Square
and images made by the participants during the creative process will be displayed in Snow
Hill Station.


A new publication, featuring the Assisted Self-Portraits, participant’s photographs, project
documentary images and new writing will be launched on the 10th October, World
Homelessness Day, at an event where homelessness in the city will be discussed by key
stakeholders.


CONSTRUCT explores the lived experience of homelessness as well as representation.
The project offers an authentic portrait of the city as well as a thought-provoking work of art.

Kate Bailey, Colmore BID Board Director and Chair of the Safe and Sound Working
Group says: Homelessness, and the District’s response to it, has been a key piece of work
for Colmore BID and we have worked with SIFA for many years to make sure that some of
the most vulnerable are able to access the help and support that they need. Whilst this
is important, so is our ability to express ourselves through art and culture. I’m proud that
we have been able to support this project that allows people experiencing homelessness to
explore photography, and then celebrate that work, publicly.


Dan Wakely, Interim CEO of SIFA Fireside says: It’s easy to forget that when it comes
down to essential needs, it’s not just about food, clothes and shelter. The ability to express
yourself creatively is integral to your identity and wellbeing, no matter your background or
current situation. It’s been amazing to see our clients develop since this project began and to
have their work and stories displayed in Snow Hill Square is a great way to say that this is
their city. After all, Birmingham belongs to all of us.


CONSTRUCT is presented by Colmore BID and GRAIN Projects, working in partnership with SIFA
Fireside. The project is generously supported by Arts Council England, National Lottery Awards
for All, Birmingham City University and the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities at Coventry
University.


For further information, click here.

For more about SIFA Fireside, visit their website.

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