Housing

Exhibition by homeless people destroyed during Euros disorder

A photography exhibition created by homeless people was damaged beyond repair during the Euro 2020 final. The act of vandalism has sparked outrage on social media.

A photography exhibition created by people experiencing homelessness was left “unsalvageable” after vandals broke in during the Euros football final last week.

Violence and disorder marred England’s Euros final clash with Italy, leading to police making 45 arrests on the night.

The Out of Home exhibition in St Martin-in-the-Fields had previously been covered by The Big Issue and featured photographs from six homeless participants who had documented their experience during lockdown. 

It was completely destroyed on the evening of July 11.

“The materials of the exhibition itself were unsalvageable. The frames and information boards were either completely bent or smashed up,” said Dan Barker, one of the organisers of the project.

Out-of-Home-2-Dan-Barker

Barker discovered the damage to the outdoor exhibition on the Monday morning following the football final. He said there are no plans to re-open in the short term. 

The vandalism has prompted an outcry on social media, with users lamenting the loss of the project and condemning the “disgraceful” behaviour.

Twitter user Neil Gough wrote: “So sorry to read this. The inhumanity of some people is staggering but doesn’t outweigh the humanity of others like you who do such good. Keep the faith!”

Also on Twitter, Joshua Geake bemoaned the lack of empathy of the vandals, as the artists’ “carefully nurtured photographs and personal accounts have been smashed to pieces”. 

Another comment, written by Geoff Jackson, read: “Truly disgraceful behaviour and I hope that the area is covered by CCTV so those responsible can be caught.” 

Barker said he had notified the artists of the damage to their work. “They have each had different reactions,” he added. 

“One of them was really upset, while another was quite circumspect and said ‘well, you’ve got to expect that sort of thing, it’s not easy being on the streets, even as an exhibition.’”

Barker organised the project along with Lucy Wood to help people who were experiencing homelessness during the pandemic and were unable to get any source of income

The project was also a way of documenting an experience that most of the general public have little knowledge of, living on the street during a pandemic.

Participants were paid for their time and provided with disposable cameras. A limited edition book has also been created using the photographs and certain standalone prints are being sold, any profits from either will go to the photographers.

The exhibition and book were also in memory of Kelly, one of the participants, who died unexpectedly during the project. She was 39 years old. 

Barker said: “We want to thank the photographers for producing such interesting work during a difficult period for the world and thank those who have supported and continue to support homeless people.” 

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