Roomers Light Up and the closing of the Gatwick

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Roomers light up

On a dark and chilly night in August 2017 we held a gathering in Loch St alongside the Gatwick Hotel in St Kilda. We closed the small side-street off to traffic for a couple of hours and had a party to celebrate Roomers 21st birthday and also mark the closing of the Gatwick Hotel as affordable and inclusive housing providing shelter for people in need. The closing of the Gatwick means 80 less beds in St Kilda at a time when the number of people sleeping rough on Melbourne streets has increased by 72 % in the last two years.

The night was about stories; spoken word, music and film. Wendy Butler, Maura Bourandanis and Jem Buckley spoke about their experiences living in the Gatwick and Anna Brandts talked about what Roomers meant to her.
Tim Rogers played a warm and entertaining acoustic set and everyone filled up on hot and tasty food kindly donated by the Fitzroy Business Association. Cups of warmed spiced apple juice were ladled into cups and shared around but the highlight of the night was when we showed the film made by Maree Wooley – local artist and animator – and the Roomers group. The film, Roomers Light Up was projected up onto the crumbling and paint-peeling wall of the Gatwick and it was magic. And then the cutting of the massive birthday cake with 21 candles.
A huge thank you to the City of Port Phillip Cultural Development Fund and also Star Health, PPHA, ESNLC and Fitzroy St Business Association.

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The hallway the alleyway art posters

What if the alleyway is safer than the hallway? How does a room become a home? What do you need to feel safe where you live?

These questions were central to a multi-platform arts project undertaken by the Roomers Group in 2011. Through a variety of mediums: written, spoken word and visual the group explored the following questions:

Do shared living spaces create community or just risk?

How much say should we get in who we live with?

What if the alleyway is safer than the hallway?

Can we ever leave stories of violence behind?

How does a room become a home?

The following art posters were created by the Roomers group and Tom Civil, co-founder of small Melbourne-based radical publishers Breakdown Press. We also titled¬† issue 48 “the hallway the alleyway” and there you will find the written pieces created during the project.. To read the magazine, go to our issues page, click on issue 48¬†and have a look.

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