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The University of Southampton
Critical Practices Research Group

The Big Sleep Out

Image from The Big Sleep

Each year, Trinity Winchester organises the Big Sleep Out, an event based around Winchester Cathedral, designed to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness and raise money for the cause. On 5 May 2017, students from Winchester School of Art were involved with the Big Sleep Out through creative action both on the streets of Winchester and inside the Cathedral itself. Trinity Winchester’s direct access service, Drop In, is a practical service that includes advice and information, healthcare, shower facilities, learning programs, recreation activities, breakfast, nutritious hot lunch or cookery classes. The project used the organisation’s lounge and dining room and was developed in collaboration with the users of the services. It is important to mention that Trinity Winchester’s headquarters stand next to the WSA campus, and this physical proximity is reflected through ideas and action.

During the first week the students and residents of Trinity Winchester set up a workshop to develop graphic works inspired by the organisation's logo. Screen printers were placed on the High Street, and students invited passers-by to create their own designs after the graphic motifs that had emerged from the workshop. The results obtained through this collaborative effort inspired promotional posters of the Big Sleep Out. The second week, developed at Trinity Winchester’s centre, saw students shooting a series of films that recorded everyday actions such as preparing a cup of tea, reading a book, folding clothes, peeling fruit and cutting vegetables. The films, featuring only the hands of the actors, were transformed into short audiovisual works that were screened inside the cathedral the day of the event:  this special space was filled with intimate gestures, repetitive everyday actions that shape domesticity.

Yet there is no graphic record of the most important part of the project: the interaction between students and users, which took place off camera. The exchange of points of view between the two groups generated a new vision of a phenomenon that is all too often regarded with prejudices. Our goal is not so much to achieve community integration of those who sleep on the streets, as they already form a part of our everyday lives, but rather our own integration, so we may begin to live with an unfair reality. No doubt seeing things in a new way is the first step on the path to changing them.

In order for all these social learning skills to emerge, we believe it is important that they be experienced in the educational setting. This is why it is so vital to create real learning situations such as the one developed with Trinity Winchester. Through such actions, we transform art schools into spaces for experimentation where these ways of acting may emerge and take shape. By triggering relationships with these key agents through specific projects we put students in situations of experiencing these new ways of doing, revealing the extraordinary nature of the ordinary. Real situations that take place on an everyday basis become agents for the action of design.



Jonny Cairns, Alice Clark, Lowena Hoskin, Emma Judd, Lukas Keysell, Imogen Keys, Alice Kumagami, Alice McKenna, Amy Mundell, Curtis Rayman, Jenny Taylor



Daniel Cid, Jaygo Bloom



Derek Yates


Special thanks to the Technical Services of the School

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