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Shopping centre exhibition highlights the importance of possessions for homeless people

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Exhibits from The Most Precious Thing I have in My PossessionExhibits from The Most Precious Thing I have in My PossessionAn unusual and thought provoking exhibition has opened in Swindon’s Brunel Shopping Centre.

The Most Precious Thing I have in My Possession is an interactive photography exhibition that uses images and personal narrations to show the impact that often everyday objects have for people who are homeless.

Featuring 49 fine art quality images of various items, plus voice recordings made by the homeless person, the exhibition shows how seemingly ordinary objects are treasured or act as a strong metaphor of hope.

Threshold Housing Link, a Swindon-based charity that supports homeless individuals, has put the exhibition together. The art images are accompanied by QR codes so visitors can use their own mobile devices to hear the voices and short personal stories of people who are homeless explaining, in their own words, why the object is precious to them.

The idea for the project began earlier this year during a photography workshop for homeless people in Swindon. Participants took pictures of their most treasured possessions and discussed why the items were so important to them. The stories that came out of the workshop were moving and thought provoking. Michael Keenan, Business Manager for Threshold explains.

“Each image and narrative is a deeply personal story and provides a glimpse into the existential and phenomenological realities in the lives of homeless people,: said Michael.

"The scant but precious objects, some of which evoke emotionally charged memories, provide hope and metaphorical, philosophical or tangible lifelines for the individuals concerned.”

The exhibition is primarily staffed by residents of Threshold who themselves are homeless and are being assisted by the charity.

Open daily until New Year’s Eve, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, it is situated on the ground floor of The Brunel Plaza, near to Havelock Square entrance and next to Sainsburys.

The exhibition also features a small selection of sculpture and poetry, also created by individuals being assisted by Threshold.

Jane Stewart is marketing manager of The Brunel and said that the centre was delighted to be able to host the exhibition.

“When Threshold were looking for a venue they approached us and we were only too pleased to help and fortunate to be able to let them have use of a recently vacated unit in a prime location," said Jane.

“It’s truly humbling to see the reactions of shoppers who visit the exhibition. People are very moved by the images, hearing the stories and talking to those who themselves are currently homeless.

"It is a truly innovative project, which is highlighting the very human side of what is at times a divisive subject. It is also motivating people to ask how they can help on a practical level.

"The profile of Threshold as a charity is being vastly improved locally and that’s to the credit of those behind the project”.