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Diamonds in the Rough art exhibition

March 10th 2011

Art for beauty's sake is a good thing, but good art can be beautiful and thought-provoking at the same time. The Diamonds in the Rough exhibition that recently finished after a week-long run in a shop space in the Pavilions Shopping Centre, Birmingham, showcased the work of SIFA Fireside service users. Photography, film and poetry provided a mix of fine work with a social conscience and a platform to share experiences.

The project came about after photographer Maria Reaney, of Silverleaf Photography, approached SIFA Fireside to work with them for her final project at university. She started running fortnightly photography workshops, took photos with service users, got involved with their artwork and poetry, and created a book from her portraits of people at SIFA Fireside. After this successful partnership, Maria was invited to engage service users in a 12-week programme of digital photography and video workshops, culminating in the exhibition.

"The exhibition has brought a pride and confidence to those who took part," said Maria. "Being part of a team and working together is very important for self-esteem and social skills".

After group discussions, Bill, Keith, Ian, Jason, Darren and Ken chose Birmingham Nature Centre, the Sea-Life Centre and the Botanical Gardens. The three venues gave free entry to the photographers, and provided them with varied and interesting subject matters and a chance to try out new camera techniques and ideas.

Maria curated the exhibition, which found a home in the Inhabit pop-up tearoom run by arts group Hybrid as part of the 'Art in Empty Spaces' programme.

Bill made a video documentary about life on the streets for the exhibition after expressing an interest in taking his camera and direction skills a bit further, a decision that was encouraged by Maria. Bill said he was interested in media as a hobby when he was younger, but became "very insular" after a bad run of luck in the mid-90s. He credits SIFA Fireside with helping him get back on his feet: "My interests came back, and my confidence came back," said Bill, who is now trying to break into scriptwriting.

Although the exhibition is now finished, it may well find another home in Birmingham soon, and prints of the artwork can be bought for a limited time from the Inhabit tearoom in The Pavilions Shopping Centre, Floor 2.


March 2011



From frumpy to funky: "Fab pads" launch nationwide with style

Government action needed to address youth homelessness rise

Public help bring empty homes back into service

Ethical caf?© gives homeless chance to make a change

Sleeping uneasy

Changes to Birmingham Citizens Advice Bureau

SIFA Fireside holds memorial service

New service user led forum

Diamonds in the Rough art exhibition

Cannock church shelter discussions

Westminster plan ban

Update on Poncho?

Detail on the Hub

Second phone count

Winter shelters follow the pack

Funding nothing new

Ex-rough sleeper up for literary prize

Reading police seek help in murder

Tent city recognised in Seattle

HRH at Arlington hostel

Zulu council in London

Squats for rent?

Debut album with royal backing

Heroin drought

Homeless to Harvard

Street Shield 20: Home again!


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© Copyright 2009-2014 The Pavement. Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656 Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760 ISSN (online) 1757-0484