From May through December 2021, Blur Projects is calling for artists to activate the UNSEEN initiative. A mobile public artspace animated by workshops, performances, and exhibitions across disciplinary lines, UNSEEN works to place misunderstood or ignored experiences of homelessness at the centre of civic dialogue. During these months, a mobile  tiny house will move between locations and landmarks in Sydney’s CBD and inner suburbs. Artists with lived experience of homelessness, or whose work attends to the issue, are invited to submit their work for display in the house.

Artists on the program include Michelle Wilkie, Linda Worlond, Nadeena Dixon, Belinda Mason, Dieter Knierim, Denise Beckwith, and Aunty Dixie Link Gordon. Blur and our partners are pleased to offer mentorship and support to artists to develop their work, and also accept works already fully realised. Artists might choose to be or be shown in the space for any length of time they see fit — be it even a day.

Organisations which have arts-based programs are also invited to use the tiny house and Unseen car to showcase the painting, photography, poetry, song, dance, craft and performance produced by women who have or are experiencing homelessness.

Please email Belinda at photography@belindamason.com or call 0414787788 to discuss your proposal.

Artists participating in the UNSEEN project include:

Since 2000, Belinda Mason, the creator of the UNSEEN Chrome Tiny House and Car art installation,  has conceptualised, produced and presented high-quality engaging socio-cultural multimedia projects for national and international audiences which create a focal point for conversations of social change. She has recorded the stories of over a thousand Australians and in doing so has captured the social and political history of Australia’s marginalised communities. Her work had been showcased at the United Nations in Geneva and New York in conjunction with six key human rights events including the 2013 & 2016 Commission on the Rights of Persons with Disability, 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Persons and 2016, 2018 & 2020 Commission on the Status of Women. Belinda is the winner of the Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture,  Moran Prize for Contemporary Photography, Perth Centre for Photography Iris Award and Australian Human Rights Awards for Photography. Collections of her works are held in Murray Arts Museum Albury, Museum of Sex New York, Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies,  Australian Museum, and Australian National Maritime Museum.

Artist Statement – Fiona Arnold 

“Walk a mile in my shoes” 
The shoes are a snap-shot of portraits of women’s lives and written stories. They represent different intersections of life, some confronting 
homelessness, abuse, addiction, mental illness, disability, poverty, sexuality, aging, racism, domestic violence, loss, unemployment and seeking asylum. 
The shoes represent the women in our communities who fight so hard advocating for change, human rights and social justice. 
These stories are often not heard and go unseen.  The visual impact of ‘Walk a mile in my shoes’ enables the inclusion of many women’s stories to be 
told and collectivity seen.  
– Fiona Arnold

Nadeena Dixon, Wiradjuri ,Yuin & Gadigal (Dharug – Boorongberrigal clan) Indigenous Multi disciplinary Artist and Master Weaver is the UNSEEN Artist in Residence during NAIDOC week in July 2021. Nadeena will be creating a collaborative weaving project which the public can participate in.

 “I am committed to assisting the development and growth of a stronger and vibrant Indigenous Arts Industry through creating sustainable partnerships that contribute to social, cultural and economic benefit for Indigenous Artists and Communities. My practice utilises my knowledge of Arts Programming, Consulting and Development/Arts and Cultural Practices/Marketing and Promotion/Indigenous Protocols and Intellectual Property Rights/Problem Shooting/Webpage and Social Media Branding/Marketing Strategies/Brokerage/Arts Consultancy/Engagement to seek new ways of utilising the convergence of emerging technologies and their applications in the creation of Indigenous programs of benefit to Indigenous Arts. I believe that hybrid and interdisciplinary Arts that engage in exploring and creating unique and dynamic new ways of expressing Australian Indigenous Arts and Culture will make a powerful contribution to the richness of the World Cultural Arts Movement.” – Nadeena Dixon

Linda Warlond is a Sydney-based photographer who also has a background in veterinary nursing. Linda’s love for animals guided her down the path to co-found the charity Pets in the Park, which aims to support homeless people who live with animal companions. When not rolling her sleeves up to help as a vet nurse at the Darlinghurst clinic, Linda also takes on the role of volunteer photographer, snapping photos on the fly of the clinic in action. Linda’s images in the UNSEEN installation during May 2021 include a combination of impromptu photos taken at the clinic combined with images from her ‘Love is the Colour’ exhibition – a series of portraits that reveal the love and enrichment pets give their owners who are homeless. The aim of this personal project was to produce strong and sympathetic images that would help raise awareness of those experiencing homelessness in Sydney.

Working on this series of black and white portraits and meeting the people behind the exterior has been a pleasure and a privilege and is often very moving.  Everyone has a story to tell, but many of these lives are much more extreme in both their simplicity and their complexity. Interacting with these fascinating faces of our city and their animal companions is a project very close to my heart.”

Former Paralympian Denise Beckwith has been the Disability Advisor at Blur Projects for twenty years and is Artist in Residence for UNSEEN during December 2021. Denise sees artistic endeavours such as photography as a tool of social activism and advocacy, framing people’s stories, allowing them to share their insights, knowledge and experiences to create social change. Denise’s photojournalistic work forms a critical component of the multimedia exhibition Silent Tears which was developed in collaboration with women with disabilities who have experienced violence or women who have acquired their disability as a direct result of violence. In 2016 and 2018, the exhibition  travelled to New York to be a part of a co-hosted side event with the Australian Government, the Australian Human Rights Commission and CBM International at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Currently Denise is undertaking a PhD of Social Sciences, at Western Sydney University exploring sexual education provision for women with physical disability and potential experiences of violence. Denise has twelve years of experience in the disability sector including various roles at People with Disability Australia and has she been the Vice President of Touching Base Inc. and member of the Disability Council of NSW.

Videographer Dieter Knierim completed his International Baccalaureate, whilst studying a Certificate lV in Screen and Film at Metro Screen, Sydney. He is a graduate of a Bachelor of Arts Communications (Media and Production) at University of Technology, Sydney. In 2017, Dieter was invited by ScreenAbility to participate in an internship with ABC Television as Editor on the program You Can’t Ask That. He was also afforded the opportunity to be an assistant Editor with SBS Television working on Eurovision through ScreenAbility. This led to him receiving funding from Screen Ability to create a documentary Intimate Encounters: 20 Years On, which has been included in the 2018 Sydney Film Festival and is currently showing on ABC iView. Dieter’s work with Blur Projects includes Outing Disability, Offside, One Life, Serving Country, Unfinished Business, Breaking Silent Codes, Black on White and Silent Tears. His work is held in collection with MAMA, Maritime Museum, Australian Museum and Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Jai Jaru has a remarkable story of sleeping rough and being homeless. Combined with her lived experience of mental ill-health, Jai has become a passionate advocate of these issues of social justice and has chosen to become an artist and participant of the UNSEEN Project. Through UNSEEN, Jai would like to create a podcast titled “Thankfulness”. This podcast seeks to acknowledge saying ‘thank you’ should not require the receiver to express gratefulness or the giver to expect gratitude. Instead, it is an acknowledgement of sitting beside someone, to create the opportunity for both to feel valued in an equitable exchange. Sometimes the small things that are done for us make a big difference, and this podcast shares those moments with audiences. Please contact us to support Jai to realise this dream and activate the UNSEEN Couch.

Emily Stafford is Artist in Residence for the April 2021 activation of the UNSEEN Project. Emily began reading at the age of 4 years.  She hasn’t stopped since, even when she experienced homelessness.

‘I love libraries as places full of ideas and possibilities that are also places of solitude,  quiet and safe, where my own thoughts can take flight.  Somewhere to dream and just be.  A good story can take you to places you’ve  never been.  Perhaps immersed into a combination of reality and fantasy.  I began writing myself as a young adolescent.  It was in part a way of letting myself be seen and heard in my world,  my own lived experience. A famous quote of which I am fond says “Some people see things that have happened and ask ‘why?”‘.  I imagine things that have not happened yet and ask “why not?”. I started book folding or book art in my early forties.  It was something that I came across by accident.  My local library had a display of book art all around its foyer.  When I questioned the  librarian about it out of curiosity,  she explained.  At first,  as an avid reader who sees books as somewhat sacred,  I was affronted by the idea of folding them up.  She went on to explain that each month many many books were taken in a skip to become landfill at the rubbish tip – necessary to create space for the new books being written and arriving.  So,  I began re-inventing (or up-cycling as it is often referred to ),  many many books.  They occupy a place in my home alongside of my other books.  Enjoy.’

Barbara McGrady is a Gamilaroi Murri Yinah woman from North Western NSW and Southern Queensland and an award winning human rights social documenter. Barbara is the recipient of the National Indigenous Human Rights Award for social documentary photography 2014 and The International Solid Screen for Indigenous women was awarded to Barbara for Photo Media documentation in 2015. Barbara’s works include commissions for The Barangaroo Authority, The Sydney Harbour Forshore Authority, NAIDOC/Sydney City Council, Leichhardt Council, KARI, NITV/SBS, National Indigenous Times, The Guardian, and The Telegraph.

“It has always been my responsibility to bring our stories into the public domain, to connect and engage audiences with images through a black lens. For most of my life, I have documented the diversity of Aboriginal experiences: politics, sport, dance, song, community, family. My contribution to UNSEEN is an opportunity to delve into my archive, and provide an insight into what it means to be a First Nations person surviving and thriving in a colonial world.” – Barb McGrady