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Artistic Director, St John's Waterloo
St John's Waterloo, London
Utopia - A New World for Everyone was a creative residency project over Spring and Summer 2022. St John’s Waterloo has a long association with homelessness and with its own visionary £5.2 million restoration project underway, the creative team invited people affected by homelessness to work with architects to consider what makes for a perfect place.
At the heart of this project were students from Accumulate, the Art School for the Homeless, who along with professionals from architecture firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) put together the Utopia project.
From April to June 2022, around 20 Accumulate students (adults of all ages) attended weekly workshops where they were supported by AHMM to conceive, design and create models of their personal utopias. The students also had input from music, textile, visual arts and creative writing tutors for an all-encompassing creative learning and exhibition experience.
The project has revealed hidden talents and forged new understandings between all involved and for some students has resulted in fully-funded scholarships to study on Access to Higher Education courses in Fine Art, Design and Digital Media, and Fashion at Morley College.
The final exhibition was also accompanied by a concert at Milton Court featuring The Choir With No Name and The Messengers, a 20-piece band of strings, wind, brass, vocals and rhythm section, made up of students and graduates from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and inspiring musicians with lived experience of homelessness.
The Utopia workshops were funded by generous grants from The Foyle Foundation and Arts Council England.