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What Makes Us Care? asks Kathryn Prescott

on Monday, 09 September 2013. Posted in N21 Community

Local girl Kathryn Prescott, daughter of Winchmore Hill Councillor Martin Prescott, has had a taste of the high life, even though she is only 22. Kathryn, who was brought up in Palmers Green, has had a starring role in the controversial cult E4 teen drama Skins, now in its seventh series; and has a mere 56,550 Twitter followers.




Kathryn is also a keen photographer, following in the footsteps of her mother, who runs PawPrints Etc, specialising in pet photography. However this talented young lady is using her personal contacts and love of photography to depict a much grittier subject – homelessness. Her exhibition What Makes Us Care, at the St Martins In The Field Crypt Gallery, in Trafalgar Square (September 18th – October 13th), depicts images of homelessness and destitution, staged by some of the actors she has worked with.



Why not just take a camera around the centre of London and other cities to take pictures of 'real' rough sleepers? Kathryn argues that when she first started planning the project she hadn't intended to use actors, but that her own experience of fame gave her the idea of blurring the lines between celebrity and anonymity, to encourage us to question our own value system – how we judge people at 'face value'. She persuaded a number of fellow actors from TV series Skins, The Borgias, Glee and Waterloo Road, to pose as rough sleepers for a new, free photography exhibition challenging the public not to ignore rising levels of street homelessness. Rough sleeping in London alone has increased 64 per cent in the last two years, according to Centrepoint, the homeless charity. Kathryn asks "why, simply because we don't know someone in need personally, has it become so easy to turn away from them?


"Most people are no longer shocked when they see someone living on the streets. In fact, many people simply walk by without so much as a second thought. I can't imagine a single person doing so if walking past a person they even faintly recognised from some area of their own life, past or present, in a similar state. By using familiar faces looking damaged and destitute, we hope these images help to break down stereotypes about those without homes; to see them as people rather than simply part of the scenery of modern life or pests to be ignored. These people living on the streets could have been friends they once knew, colleagues they could have known in future; they are people who have somehow fallen through the gaps and found themselves, often through unimaginable circumstances, on the cusp of existence. In another reality, this could easily be me or you."


By using 'cool' teen stars, Kathryn hopes to break down that barrier and get viewers, especially the young, who will be most familiar with the actors who have participicated in the project; to relate to the problems of homelessness. "I know people who have been without a home for ages and lots of my friends are sofa surfing because they are in between jobs or saving for degrees and other studies — paying £500 rent every month is just not feasible for them."


Kathryn has spent time researching the problems of homelessness, including interviewing a number of Big Issue sellers. She is also interested in how homelessness has been depicted in books and films, including George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London and Andrea Arnold's 2009 film Fish Tank.


She is keen to support charities that help the homeless, who often have multiple problems and will be donating all the proceeds from the sale of the prints sold at the exhibition to Centrepoint and The Big Issue.


"A friend told me she was once warned by a security guard not to give a homeless man food because 'it will only encourage him'. That really stuck with me, how often society views people without homes as nothing more than pests rather than human beings on the cusp of existence, in need of care or just acknowledgement of their own humanity."

Wise words from someone so young.



What Makes Us Care? is at St Martin-in-the-Fields Crypt Gallery, WC2 (020 7766 1100, stmartin-in-the-fields.org), September 18–October 13 2013.

Open Mon, Tues & Fri, 8.30am-1pm and 2pm-6pm;

Weds, 8.30am-1.15pm and 2pm-5pm;

Thurs, 8.30am-1.15pm and 2pm-6pm;

Sat, 9.30am-6pm; Sun, 3.30pm-5pm;


Admission free. 



Local girl Kathryn Prescott, daughter of Winchmore Hill Councillor Martin Prescott, has had a taste of the high life, even though she is only 22. Kathryn, who was brought up in Palmers Green, has had a starring role in the controversial cult E4 teen drama Skins, now in its seventh series; and has a mere 56,550 Twitter followers.

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