“You see the trouble but you don’t understand my struggle.”
A new collaboration between people who have experienced homelessness and local artists will be shown at the People's History Museum on Monday 11 June 2018 as part of Manchester Histories Festival.
'Moving Panoramas' will combine visual arts with original songwriting to create a performance piece centred around scrolling artworks that reflect on our past but also give voice to experiences in the present.
Arts organisation arthur+martha’s lead artist Lois Blackburn and singer songwriter Matt Hill (Quiet Loner) have worked with people from the Booth Centre, a day centre in Manchester for those who have experienced homelessness. Taking inspiration from the People's History Museum they have created songs and artworks that explore the rich history of Manchester's streets as well as their own personal histories and stories.
As the project began it became clear that museums are places some homeless people like to go to. One of the project participants said “I've visited more museums since I've been homeless than I ever did before”. The People's History Museum with its story of the struggles of ordinary working people provided lots of ideas that have been expanded and explored to create the new work.
The songs and artworks created speak of 21st century issues such as debt, living in poverty and lack of representation. They also draw parallels with similar struggles from the 19th and 20th centuries. The idea of struggle was one of the main themes to emerge. Gary from Salford who was recently homeless said of the Booth Centre “Everyone who comes here finds something a struggle, from the past, present or the future.” Gary later reflected on that in lyrics for a song he wrote called 'I've seen you there' - “I’ve seen you there but you have no time to spare. You see the trouble but you don’t understand my struggle.”
The performance, taking place from 12.00pm to 1.00pm on Monday 11 June 2018, will be filmed and will feature some of the project participants from the Booth Centre performing alongside the scrolling artworks. The performance has been created in response to the People’s History Museum’s collections, and on issues within their exhibition Represent! Voices 100 Years On which runs from Saturday 2 June 2018 to Sunday 3 February 2019. The project has been supported by a grant from Arts Council England.