Home Project to highlight homelessness

SOUTHERN Cross University, in collaboration with Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA), is inviting the community to talk about home, place and belonging in a specially designed film set at the SCU next Art Gallery in Lismore this week, from August 3 to 5.

Called the Home Project, the first phase in a three-year community-based creative investigation into the issue of homelessness in regional Australia is taking place during National Homeless Persons' Week.

"I think we've all felt ill-at-ease in a place at some stage in our lives," said Dr Grayson Cooke, Home Project facilitator and senior lecturer in the University's School of Arts and Social Sciences.

"Whether that means we've been actually homeless, been in transitional accommodation, living in a car, couch surfing or we've lacked that sense of belonging that comes without support networks around us," Dr Cooke said.

"We're hoping to raise awareness of the important, yet tenuousness nature, of a sense of place and belonging."

Two projects are running concurrently in the SCU next Art Gallery film set. The first is a video activity where participants are filmed responding to questions about place, like, 'What does place mean to you?' and 'What makes your place yours?'

In the second project, a photographic activity, participants are asked to imagine a statue is being made in their honour.

"Statues commemorate people and events and not many of us are remembered or honoured this way," said Dr Cooke.

"We're asking people to pose as their statue then tell us the story of that statue and where it would be placed."

A group of advanced-level Media Studies students are involved in the creative generation and production of both projects, with the material to be exhibited at the SCU next Art Gallery later in the year.

"In collaboration with NORPA, we plan to turn the material into a theatrical performance or an installation that will involve the wider community and spread more broadly than Lismore," Dr Cooke said.

"The stories we tell about homelessness in the Northern Rivers will undoubtedly resonate nationally."

Julian Louis, artistic director for NORPA, agreed.

"The arts can play a significant role in creating dialogue between the whole community and an issue. It can put emotion and voice to something we are concerned about but don't know how to engage with," Mr Louis said.

"I think there is a lot of misunderstanding around homelessness and, through this multi-platform project, we aim to get closer to the stories and the issue."

Event details:

The SCU next Art Gallery is at 89 Magellan Street, Lismore. The film set is operating as follows:

Wednesday, August 3, noon-4pm
Thursday, August 4, noon-4pm and 6-8pm
Friday, August 5, 6-8pm

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