Picture credit: David Tovey

More than 100 people affected by homelessness were equipped with single-use cameras to take pictures for a competition, on the theme ‘My London’.

The street photographers shot more than 3,000 images in a contest run by Café Art, an organisation that connects homeless people with the wider community through art.

Their artwork is sold in London cafés, with proceeds going to the artists themselves.

‘Homelessness can affect many people and everyone has a different story,’ explained Café Art director Paul Ryan.

‘The goal of this calendar is to increase understanding in a positive way.’

Café Art says sale proceeds will go direct to homeless vendors, and towards materials for the art groups involved.

Last year’s calendar raised £18,000 for photographers, art groups and vendors.

Participants received support and training from members of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) for the five-day contest, held in July.

RPS director general Dr Michael Pritchard, one of the six judges, said: ‘Café Art has brought photography and the homeless together in a ground-breaking initiative that is bringing real benefit to those participating.

‘The calendar itself brings direct support but, equally important, is the raising of self-esteem and confidence for those taking part.

‘It is a small project but is making a big difference.’

The best photos were chosen to appear in the My London 2015 calendar, through a public vote that followed an initial judging session.

An accompanying exhibition, featuring more than 400 entries, opens from 13-19 October at Spitalfields Market in east London.


Picture credit: Alex Davies

However, this year’s project was touched by tragedy.

Organisers say that Alex Davies, whose photo was chosen as the September image (above), died recently.

Alex had attended an art group at the Margins Project in Islington since April last year.

Café Art director Paul Ryan said Alex had been involved in the editing of her story in the calendar ‘right until the final editing’ last month.

Of her September photo, depicting a man in a cream-coloured suit – entitled ‘The Artist’ – Alex told organisers: ‘I met Pip on Liverpool Road. He said he had been wearing cream for all the summer, and he certainly looked like he’d had those clothes on for quite a long time…

‘I wanted him to keep his eyes open because they were so blue.’

However, Alex said that in the end Pip closed his eyes as she took the shot.

Last year’s inaugural Café Art calendar proved a sell-out, prompting organisers to increase this year’s print run to 5,000 – 2,000 more copies than last year.

The judging panel included David Holmes, a photographer who has experienced homelessness, and Amateur Photographer news editor Chris Cheesman.

A judges’ choice and public vote winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at Spitalfields Market next week.

The My London calendar will go on sale on 13 October, priced £9.99.

It will be available from vendors, as well as through the Café Art website at  www.cafeart.org.uk.

For details of Café Art – the concept for which emerged ‘over a cup of coffee’ in 2012 – visit www.cafeart.org.uk


Picture credit: Zsolt Krisztian Nagy 

CA Calendar 2015 Cover.webPicture credit: David Tovey