"Handle with care" is an apt title for this art and media exhibition curated by The Archer Project. The exhibition aims to highlight the direct link between lived experiences of trauma and homelessness.
This is done using stories. Narratives, especially ones that we are allowed to set ourselves are key to our sense of identity. Our image of ourselves and as a consequence the image we project into the world. Our Service users are no different. We live in a very judgemental society today. We are quick to make snap judgments about a person especially if we see them exhibiting behaviour we find rude, illogical, harmful, or just plain wrong in our eyes. We may respond with disdain, anger, resentment, or even worse apathy. We demand to know what's wrong with you, instead of gently asking what happened to you. We don't get to hear people's stories, the where it happened, the why they are like this. "Handle with care " wants to give you perspectives on the world through the eyes of sufferers of trauma. The vibrant, funny, charming, warm but damaged humans we see at our project are often not what the rest of the public see.
I'm Chris and I work for our social enterprise. I'm a poet and I've experienced trauma myself, abuse in my youth and traumatic experiences in my adult life. This led to addiction, mental illness, and criminality. The project helped me build a life for myself upon my release from prison, they were instrumental in fact, encouraging me to and giving me a platform to write and share my work. I've contributed to this exhibition, a recording of me reciting the poem is played on loop down in the crypt.
The piece is titled "Rita" it is a fictional account based on some very real stories and horrors experienced by people I have listened to over the years, sprinkled with my own understanding and experience of the helplessness and insidious damage caused by some of the issues raised. The poem is not a positive one, it is stark, dark and bleak and there is no happy ending. Nor do I think there should be. No happy ending is a reality for some of our people and thousands others like them across the country right now.
- Chris Lynam
Handle with Care is open at The Sheffield Cathedral from 22nd – 30th September 2022