Street + Gallery (3 stars)

National Gallery Complex, until Sun 4 May

Mixed media

We walk past them everyday. Some of us slow down briefly and spare a few coins. But how many of us slow down and spare a thought for their hopes, dreams and concerns.

For the ‘Street + Gallery’ outreach exhibition The National Galleries of Scotland in partnership with The Ark Trust, have worked with two specific homeless groups, Space 44 (a women’s drop-in centre) and an over 50s group to provide the homeless clients with the means and a platform to express themselves through various artistic mediums. Visiting exhibitions, permanent collections, field trips and workshops have been utilised to educate, inspire and challenge the groups.

This modest collection of work explores themes of importance to the individuals involved and is contextualised with relevance to the Galleries’ collection. Acrylic on canvas, mixed media and photography tell the stories of an often silenced community. ‘My Boys’, ‘The Colours in my Heart and Soul of Love and Life’, ‘Flying with Angels’ and ‘Break Up’ display a child-like innocence and certainly lack technical strength but the themes of sadness, loss and hope resonate with honesty and evoke emotion like that found in greater works.

The success of the project may be hard to measure. The observations, inspirations and interpretations absorbed from exhibitions including Warhol and Picasso are clearly seen in the creative reasoning and processing of the artists of Street + Gallery. This is fluorescent pop art and cubist simplicity with a spin from an unlikely source.

The Street + Gallery exhibition won’t produce any rags to riches stories for the artists. But it has developed avenues of expression for a group of people previously overlooked and perhaps it will allow the public a chance to slow down and spare a thought.

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