From the Wunderkammers of Renaissance to this day, the Global West has a museum for everything. From sex to death, from vaginas to phallic specimens, from lawnmowers to chamber pots, there's a museum for it. It's how we showcase, celebrate, preserve, categorise, educate, shape narratives and tell stories.

The Museum of Homelessness is a charity run by people who have themselves been homeless. I believe this may be one of the very rare instances when a community has taken control of its own narrative to tell the stories of the many invisible people we walk past every day (an estimated 200,000 in the UK alone). By collecting and sharing 'the art, history and culture of homelessness and housing inequality' this social justice museum is hoping to drive change.

It takes surprisingly little to become homeless. It could be a break-up, having to escape an abusive relationship, becoming unemployed, struggling with mental health issues. This escalation is sadly exacerbated by the overall lack of affordable housing. During lockdown, the museum set up a task force to deliver care packs and food to the people forced to live in the streets 24/7. Despite what the Govt and the British media would have you believe, the pandemic is not over and the museum's efforts to support the homeless continue (there is a link on their website if you wanted to make a donation).

I have chosen this painting by British artist James Earley because it poignantly conveys the isolation and vulnerability experienced by rough sleepers, whose life expectancy is 45 for men and 43 for women. This is Amy, guarded by her dog as she sleeps outside London's National Portrait Gallery.

#homelessness #homelessnessmuseum #museum #london #painting #figurativepainting #hyperrealism #blog #artblog #beyondthecanvasblog

James Earley

Mother, 2019

© James Earley

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  • Beyond the Canvas

Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation and a public health epidemic. It occurs daily across the world and is widely underreported. Globally, an estimated 736 million women aged 15 and older have been subjected to some sort of physical, sexual or psychological violence at least once in their life. That's almost 1 in 3 of us.

Thanks to the generosity of knitters from all social and cultural backgrounds, since 2015 Viva Vittoria has been covering Italy's most beautiful piazzas with thousands of colourful knitted and crocheted squares, all sewn together with a red thread symbolising unity. The objective of this project is to fight gender-based violence and to support the social reintegration of female victims of violence.

The blankets are sold for a suggested donation of €20, which will fund the work of local charities. It's a vibrant and joyous installation, my piazza never looked so alive. In Bologna's Piazza Maggiore today and tomorrow, go get yourself (or the cat) a lovely blankie.

#vivavittoria #stopviolenceagainstwomen #knitting #craftivism #bologna #piazzamaggiore #noallaviolenzasulledonne #blog #blogger #beyondthecanvasblog

View over the 'crescentone' in Bologna's Piazza Maggiore today

Hector, the end user.

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It's been 15 years to the day since Anna Politkovskaya was murdered for fearlessly and relentlessly telling the truth. Anna was gunned down in the entrance hall of the block of flats where she used to live in Moscow. An investigative journalist with Novaya Gazeta, Anna was a staunch human rights advocate and a strident critic of the Kremlin.

I have read all her books, often struggling to make sense of a reality that is far, far away from mine. "A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya" is a harrowing account of the unspeakable atrocities perpetrated by the Russian armed forces in one of the many conflicts forgotten by the Western media. Did you know there have been two wars in Chechnya in the last 30 years, one from 1994 to 1996 and then a second one from 1999 to 2009? Do you know why the war started in the first place? No, me neither. Not until I read Anna's book anyway.

Russia's authoritarian regime and its curtailment of freedom of expression may seem like a distant threat to us. But looking at how the UK media has become a mouthpiece for the Tory government, the chilling truth is that these journalists are de facto enablers and feeders of the fake news propaganda Build Back Better (whatever the eff that means) machine. With six billionaires holding the majority of voting shares in most of the national newspapers and privately-educated white men at their helm, the current UK corporate media scenario is hardly a shining example of independent thinking and unbiased agendas.

So today I choose to remember Anna Politkovskaya, celebrate her dogged determination to speak truth to power, her integrity as a reporter, her courage as a human being.

#annapolitkovskaya #journalism #russia #truth #novayagazeta #inmemoriam #thislittlegirl #media #freepress #blog #blogger #beyondthecanvasblog

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