Art student gives voice to Oxford's homeless community

Thursday, 16 December 2010


Art student Kim Seymour has given a voice to the city's homeless community through a diary project recording their day-to-day lives.

Oxford Brookes art student Kim Seymour has given a voice to the city’s homeless community through a diary project recording their day-to-day lives.

Since May this year, the second-year student has given out hand-made diaries to Big Issue sellers and asked each person to write about their lives for seven days. The diaries provide an insight into a world most of us have never seen.

Kim said: “When I see them all there as a collection, in my head I just think there shouldn’t be that many. I shouldn’t have been able to find 20 people. I shouldn’t have been able to find any people.”

Whilst getting to know the homeless, Kim found that their community consists of people with a range of personal backgrounds. Writing in the diaries were graduates, friends and siblings, “who’ve had very hard cards dealt.”

Kim recalled one particular story of Sherry, a woman who has lived on the streets for ten years after being thrown out by her mother at the age of 13. Her mother had started a new family and decided Sherry was no longer welcome in her home.

When asked what inspired the work, Kim said: “To not judge a pre-judged community is something I hold to quite strongly. I thought you won’t really get a more pre-judged community than these people. I’ve always really cared about homelessness.”

Kim exhibited the diaries at Oxford Brookes University as part of her Fine Art degree on Wednesday December 15. Alongside the diaries were a collection of photographs and letters, with audio versions of the diaries. The work is ongoing and she hopes to have the opportunity to take part in further exhibitions of the work.

Kim also travelled to Bath, Stratford and Reading to find volunteers for her project. She has been contacted by ITV to help with a production of a new documentary series about homelessness, which will feature some of the homeless artistic collaborators. Her project will also be covered in the Big Issue magazine, which is sold by homeless people.

During Kim’s A-level studies she won gold and silver awards from the Royal Academy of Arts in an online competition. Two of her artworks were on the website for a year as part of the 2009 Body and Soul Exhibition.