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  • Info OFS

People Will Remember These Pictures For A Long, Long Time

I moved to Oxford after being homeless on and off for about two years. I just wanted to be around

people I could trust, I guess. I just wanted a little bit of normality. When you’re homeless, you don’t

have much confidence in yourself, you get dragged down. Even walking down the street, however

well-dressed you are, you always feel slightly inferior to other people. It’s the way you feel inside.

You lose confidence in people, you lose confidence in yourself.

You walk down the street and a lot of people have been through bad experiences, but they don’t

talk about it and sometimes people are ashamed of it. The first move is the hardest, you know?

Some people are just stuck in it all the time, and need opportunities to express themselves.

Normally I wanted to stay away from people, you know, not embarrass myself - but I’d just had

enough really and I thought this would help me. I just wanted to engage with something, with - I

wouldn’t say ‘like-minded’ people - but people who have been through the same thing. It’s nice to

get your brain working again. So coming to the Old Fire Station, actually meeting respectful nice

people made a refreshing change. I was dubious to start with, but once you get into it...I’ve been

doing the same job for so many years so it has opened my mind to doing other things, rather than

just working to survive. It’s important to do things that you actually enjoy, isn’t that what life’s all

about? I want a little bit more than existence. I want to get up in the morning and think ‘yeah I

want to do this’.

I was interested in doing the photography side of things generally, then I found out that they

were doing the ICON project. I used to look forward to coming in every Thursday morning, half

past ten, like ‘oh, what are we going to do today?’ and they’d say, ‘we’ve got to do this’, ‘got to go

there’. There’s a huge attention to detail paid in terms of the physical surroundings - the lighting,

the props, the costumes, everything. It was a group effort all round, it was everyone engaging one

hundred percent. I was a little bit wary to start with, then when you get into character and you

know everyone’s in the same boat sort of thing. There’s nothing to feel nervous about really. And

plus it gets people thinking about what went on in that era. You know, you learn a lot from the

past, so it’s nice to be able to understand other people as well, and what other people have gone


A lot of the pictures are quite political, aren’t they? Which I think is quite important because it

raises more awareness of the way the country was run and helps reflect on how it’s run now. Some

people love the Spice Girls, some people hate them, but it’s a thing which changed the country I

think, you know? Like it or hate it, it did change things, all the pictures had quite a big impact on

the country at the time. It shows a passage of time, definitely.

I liked when I did the Bloody Sunday one. It was quite controversial, it raised awareness of the

trouble that went on years ago. A lot of things like that were just brushed under the carpet, but

when you actually read into things you think, ‘wow, things like that really did happen’. There’s

so many clamp downs on people protesting and things like that, sometimes people don’t have

enough of a voice, you know? For that photo I brought my trimmers in and Jodie [Crisis Arts Tutor]

shaved my head down the middle so I looked like the Priest. So there’s Rory’s son dressed up as

the injured person with fake blood all down his face, and there’s me as a priest smoking with a

cigarette. And doing the Bullingdon Club we’re all dressed in tops and tails, walking down the

street. We got a few strange looks for those crossing the road - people peering round the curtains,

everyone staring at us thinking ‘what are they doing?’

It’s all about trying new things, isn’t it? A couple of people made comments to me saying ‘oh you

should do amateur dramatics’ and stuff like that. I think that would be good because it’s good for

people’s confidence, you know, broadening people’s horizons and finding out what people are

good at and what they enjoy, because some people don’t even know it, do they? You sort of lose

your way a little bit when all you’re doing is working, coming home, working, studying– you know?

This has given me an opportunity to take a step back and look at myself and you know think, what

do I really want out of life?

It’s helped me a lot, and all the things like tied in together, you know - me starting here, me

stopping drinking, sorting financial things out and things which I’ve been putting off. It’s like two

cogs slotting in together. I think everyone who was involved would love to do the project again,

you know, because it gets people together. Everyone got on absolutely perfectly, you know?

Everyone was polite to each other, we all had a laugh, no one ever fell out, no one said ‘do this, do

that’, it was like a team. It’s something that I’ll remember, definitely, because it obviously saved my

situation, helped me a lot. Because these pictures will be around forever won’t they? And people

will remember these for a long, long time.


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