In 2016 we began to put the chapters together of An Untold Story, telling our stories and experiences of life on the streets and street prostitution.
As a collective we wanted to highlight the multiple disadvantages that we experienced and what thousands of women are still experiencing today in Hull and the rest of the country.
Each week a group of eight or more of us would meet in a beautiful sewing room and we supported each other as we relived our lives and put it on paper.
One by one four of our group died. This was truly devastating.
In 2017 we published our book and we have continued to highlight the complexities of multiple disadvantages. We wanted to not only challenge stigma but shatter it.
In 2019 our amazing supporters at Lankelly Chase Foundation introduced us to Henry/Brag photography artists. Julie and Debbie came up to Hull for the day with loads of cameras and as a group we took them on a journey around Hull’s Red light district, past and present, taking photos and talking about why these places still resonate with us today.
We chose 14 images of everyday things, a doorway where I used to stand as a prostitute when it was raining, a phone box in the red light district, behind an abandoned building where a woman was found after being beaten and left for dead. Simple images that tell of pain and loss. The images were accompanied by snippets of conversations we had while seeing all the photos for the first time.
The 14 images represent 14 women, who we knew, who were friends, who we loved, that sadly died between 2013 and 2017. These deaths have impacted our group in ways we never imagined.
As a joint collaboration of An Untold Story-Voices and Henry/Brag we were going to show these 14 photos in a gallery setting and then the world changed because of Covid-19. So we had to rethink the whole exhibition. We decided to exhibit the images on the street, in a bus shelter in the red light district in Hull and massive billboards in our city.
We also wanted to remember the lives lost so we did a pop-up street gallery in Hull city centre on the 14th of July, helped by a group of our friends and supporters.
14 people, holding 14 images, with 14 minutes silence.
This silence felt incredibly powerful and poignant, telling our stories, the stories of those we have lost, the stories of women today trying to survive and we did this without words, without speaking. The images were also shown on billboards in Shoreditch and fly posters in Soho.
On the 30th of July our tiny group went to London for the day and met our London friends and supporters in Soho to replicate our 14 minute silence. Again we felt the power of the silence.
We plan to have another pop-up street gallery again in the city centre of Hull.
In doing this exhibition we want to start the difficult conversations relating to multiple and complex disadvantages, to start talking about the realities of survival. With successive governments and local councils cutting budgets to vital services women are left with nowhere to turn. This cannot continue. Women are dying.
13-26 July 2020 Hull
20-02 Aug 2020 Shoreditch, London 27-09 Aug 2020 Soho, London