During lockdown in 2020 an artist, Andy Price, found a letter on Bristol's Pero Bridge written by a female homeless person. He was moved by the letter and concerned for her physical and mental health. The letter inspired him to create a painting centred on the letter and the issue of homelessness in Bristol during the pandemic. The painting is titled, “I Used To Be Someone”.
Andy showed the painting to Nick Waugh, owner of View Art Gallery, who had a similar emotional response and a desire to do something to help. Nick set up a project team to raise funds for the charity Help Bristol’s Homeless. The target is to raise enough money to refurbish a new shipping container in the charity’s Bedminster community.
Any donation of £50 or more will receive a signed print of the painting. Prints will also be on sale in View Art Gallery in Hotwells, online and through social media.
Help Bristol’s Homeless is a registered charity with a mission to change the face of homelessness in Bristol. In their own words...
"The ethos of our charity is that housing must come first, and then everything else comes after. Many complex factors can lead to homelessness, and while it is true that these issues need to be resolved to keep people off the street, we believe that the priority must be to get people into safe, stable and comfortable accommodation. From there, we can help them to improve their own lives and reach their potential.
Free clothing and food can help people to survive homelessness, but it does not provide a way out. Programmes aimed at resolving complex issues such as addiction are vital but do not solve the day-to-day problems of being homeless. We do not believe a person suffering from homelessness can make the most of these programmes, or reach their potential when they face a daily task of finding a safe place to stay. We believe that the best way to help homeless people is to give them a secure base from which they can build their lives.
We build temporary accommodation, to be used by residents while they access the help they need to secure a permanent home. By providing users with the security and dignity that everyone deserves, we empower them to take an active role in improving their situation. Our mission is to get homeless people off the street first, and then give them a helping hand in the right direction."
Bristol artist, Andy Price, describes the moment he found an adandoned note and how this turned into an iconic painting.
“One morning, passing over Pero’s footbridge in the silence of lockdown, I came across a small note from a homeless person. Taking photos, I moved on and yet this image stuck in my mind for months. This was a bridge symbolising Bristol’s part atonement to slavery and yet this note further reminded me of the inequities of luck, opportunity, security and even free will, especially with Covid19 raging.
I began to think about the note in relation to how it might become the central pageant to a painted tableau of my lived experiences (and yet by the nature of the imagery, hold a common bond to us all). I then mused how my design might clash with the currently fashionable procession of crafted imagery, all colliding online with computer controlled pageants of the bright and weirdly accomplished, projecting a happy branded world at peace and not as it happens, an unequal planet on the verge of ecological extinction.
Against this obvious mismatch I decided that if I was going to make this work a largely graphic, complex, clear, political, modest in scale and a dark subject everyone understands then as a contemporary anti “contemporary” painting, it would be interesting to experience it over and above the narrative, as something that might in a very small way seek to make the world a better place, not simply to own.”
We hope you are moved by this story and motivated to help. In order to reach our goal of raising £15,000 for a new refurbished container we need donations, for as much as anyone can afford. For donations of £50 or more you will receive a signed print of the painting (40 x 50 cm).