We walk past them each day – on our way to work or to the shops. Sometimes we give money but very rarely do we stop and talk to the homeless. The problem is that they become this distant, anonymous ‘other’.
Well the photographer Andrew McNeil, who is perhaps better known for his work in South East Asia, decided to turn his camera onto the homeless of Cardiff, the city he was born and grew up in.
His photographs will be shown as part of the exhibition Under The Bridge – Being homeless in Cardiff at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. He did not want to just coolly turn up though and take snapshots of his subjects. He wanted to get beyond that separation that exists between the passer-by and the homeless themselves.
So he set out to establish a relationship with the people he wanted to portray. He spent months talking to them, eating with them and even some nights sleeping with them on the streets of Cardiff. He wanted to get an insight into their separate lives and how they ended up on the street in the first place.
The men and women aged between 18 and 70 are often shown by the media and seen by passers-by in a dismissive manner as having mental health problems, or being drug addicts or drunks. Andrew’s photographs go beyond such simple stereotypes and gets to the people behind the myths to reveal the real people, each with their own unique story. Yes they all have their problems but don’t we all. The resulting photographs allow the homeless people to show the individuality and humanity whilst trying their best to survive on the streets.
Under The Bridge – Being homeless in Cardiff – The exhibition by Andrew McNeill is showing at Gallery 2, Aberystwyth Arts Centre from 6 February to 9 April 2016.
For more information with the website for the Aberystwyth Arts Centre at www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk