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Artist focus on street people

PUBLISHED: 11:30 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 09:17 12 August 2010

EXHIBITION: Photographs taken by homeless people

EXHIBITION: Photographs taken by homeless people

AN ARTIST spent three days living on the streets to produce a photography exhibition portraying the experiences of homeless people. West Wickham resident and Camberwell College of Art graduate Mark Read, 22, (inset) undertook the research for his See th

AN ARTIST spent three days living on the streets to produce a photography exhibition portraying the experiences of homeless people.

West Wickham resident and Camberwell College of Art graduate Mark Read, 22, (inset) undertook the research for his See the Unseen collection, which aims to gain an insight into how people who sleep rough survive.

Mr Read, a volunteer for The Salvation Army, which helps the homeless, asked people living on the streets to take photographs which illustrated their lives.

He said: "Seeing the prevalence of the problem of homelessness and how it does not receive a lot of attention was nagging at my conscience and I felt I had to do something about it. Art is a great form for discussing things and putting an opinion forward.

"During the three days I spent a lot of time walking around. I slept near Victoria and on the South Bank. I tried to find the main places where homeless people sleep.

"I spent a long time talking to one or two in particular. One, a man called Julian, is painfully shy but I convinced him to take photos for me.

"I learned just how hard the practicalities are, things like managing to get enough food and coping with being ignored all day. The boredom and the loneliness struck home more than anything."

Mr Read is planning on completing a Masters degree before applying to train as a Salvation Army minister. He hopes to work on homeless projects in the future.

"I've got my teeth stuck into it now," he said. "The Salvation Army is stepping up the work it does with homeless people so I'm planning on keeping my finger on the pulse."

The exhibition runs until the end of the month at The Salvation Army's International Headquarters, 101 Queen Victoria Street, London. It is open between 8am and 4pm.

The See the Unseen exhibition coincides with the launch of The Seeds of Exclusion 2009 report, produced by The Salvation Army with the University of Kent and Cardiff University. It found that relationship breakdown and substance misuse were the key reasons for homelessness. For more information, visit www.

salvationarmy.org.uk/seeds.

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