AAJ Press

Street Grammar – Exploring the Voices of London’s Homeless. Chelsea Library, London, April 2016

We will try to get close to the real beyond the words. Taka

Street Grammar is a socially engaged project devised by Takayuki Ishii (Taka), a community designer, studying for the MA Narrative Environments at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. He spent days and nights on the streets of London, gaining insight through this experience, talking to homeless people to discover their stories, recording conversations and allowing their voices to be heard. The stories can be discovered through searching the bookshelves at Chelsea Library.

What’s your Story?

At Chelsea Library, brown cardboard book covers will be placed on bookshelves and small cut-outs of the information and photographs will be on tables. Library users will see the picture of the authors plus a short quote, URL and a number on the book cover. Visitors have to type in the URL and put the number (using the Dewey Decimal System across all Libraries in the world) in the search box. Then they will hear and share the real voices of the homeless to open up and explore their daily life through their own stories.

street grammar installationA Library contains all human knowledge

   “Chelsea library staff have welcomed Taka’s initiative and are excited to be hosting the installation,” Chelsea Library

Street Grammar will be based in the Chelsea Library because the library is one of the most commonly used community spaces. How its space is used varies from person to person, but it is special because it stores knowledge, and offers a new experience every time words are read or heard. Although the library is a safe and calm environment, there are barriers between the homeless and other users. Street Grammar will be part of the human knowledge within libraries providing freedom to explore and express one’s words and stories.

Changing assumptions and discovering new perspectives on homeless people

There are invisible barriers that are created by individuals in society, and unfortunately, some of these barriers create false assumptions of others. Street Grammar aims to break these barriers and assumptions, especially associated with homeless people through the sharing of words. Homeless people will be the authors because their words give insights into their myriad experiences and reveal their unseen stories. Once all users open the “book”, they will hopefully start to discover new perspectives of words in different contexts.

Allowing the homeless to have a true voice

Sadly the assumptions our society has of homeless people cause many to mistreat and misread homeless people. To help eradicate such negative thoughts in society, and reduce the mistreatment of other humans, the sharing of stories will help many to understand the homeless. Street Grammar becomes a bridge between all humans, starting with a wide range of library users. Homeless people have many compelling stories to share – so why let them go unheard or read?

Who is involved?

“I always felt awkward and guilty when I passed by them because I did nothing. At the same time, I found myself wanting to ask them many questions.” Taka

Taka is a community designer, who comes from a graphic design background. He became concerned about homelessness once he came to London, which led him to develop Street Grammar.

“It’s real, it’s rich, and it’s going to open so many eyes through words articulated in many ways.” Georgina

The project also involves Georgina Manly, a developing writer and storyteller, and Agnieszka Szypicyn, a graphic designer interested in analogue design. Street Grammar to her is an eye-opening experience:

It’s about diving into a very problematic topic and putting yourself in homeless people’s shoes, in order to get rid of any prejudice.” Agnieszka

Jeremy E Hunt , Director of AAJPress is a consultant to Street Grammar, advising on the context of homeless in the UK. He is currently planning further projects to raise awareness of homelessness through an artistic approach.

Date and Location

Street Grammar will officially start in mid-April 2016 at Chelsea Library, Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Rd, London SW3 5EZ  t. 020 7361 3010 (Library)

Sponsorship and funding

We are currently looking for funding. Please contact us.

Get in touch and find out more

e. hello@streetgrammar.org


About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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