The pri­vate view of Mov­ing For­ward pho­tog­ra­phy exhi­bi­tion took place on Thurs­day 14th July at the glam­orous offices of The Guardian in Kings Cross, on a rare sun­ny evening with sun flood­ing into the space. Mov­ing For­ward fea­tures beau­ti­ful pho­tographs by a group of young stu­dents who have been tak­ing cre­ative work­shops at Ravens­bourne Col­lege, but what makes this exhi­bi­tion all the more remark­able is the obsta­cles these fledg­ling pho­tog­ra­phers have had to over­come in order to get to this stage.

These tal­ent­ed young peo­ple are from home­less back­grounds and are liv­ing at hos­tels around Lon­don – many resid­ing at the YMCA north Lon­don. The res­i­dents have coped with myr­i­ad prob­lems through­out their lives, from trau­mat­ic fam­i­ly sit­u­a­tions and dis­rupt­ed school­ing, to lack of self esteem. Yet here they are, exhibit­ing their work at a pres­ti­gious art space, talk­ing and min­gling with the crowds who keep pour­ing in.

Sarah-Jane Smyth
Sarah-Jane Smyth

Rewind three years: a chance phone call by the north Lon­don YMCA to Marice Cum­ber, one of the direc­tors of a local arts fes­ti­val, lead to the for­ma­tion of the Accumul8 char­i­ty. The hos­tel hoped the fes­ti­val could find a way to unlock the cre­ative poten­tial of its res­i­dents. Marice rose to the occa­sion, set­ting up work­shops with Ravens­bourne Col­lege, where she is a work based learn­ing coordinator.

How­ev­er, the work­shops were going to need some fund­ing. So Marice start­ed the Accumul8 project with jam mak­ing ses­sions, using wind­falls, pro­vid­ed free by locals, which were used to make jams and chut­neys and then sold at craft fairs. In this way, the hos­tel res­i­dents, many who could­n’t cook, were taught how to make jam – anoth­er skill under their belt.

Since its foun­da­tion in 2013, Accumul8 has grown in leaps and bounds; Mov­ing For­ward dis­plays a matu­ri­ty and pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the work of the stu­dents. The show has just been fea­tured on ITV News at 6.


For Marice Cum­ber, the pri­vate view was a reward­ing and emo­tion­al expe­ri­ence. I asked her about her over­rid­ing feel­ings: “the best bit of the exhi­bi­tion is see­ing the young peo­ple who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the pro­gramme, so excit­ed, hap­py and con­fi­dent, so proud of their work, chat­ting with peo­ple and being the stars of the show. It’s a real high for them and some­thing so pos­i­tive to remem­ber, and which will hope­ful­ly show them that every­one can achieve and move their lives forward.”

Mov­ing For­ward is on till 31 July, at The Guardian offices, Kings Cross.


All work is for sale, 40% of the prof­its go to the pho­tog­ra­ph­er with the remain­ing 60% to Accumul8 so it can con­tin­ue its work pro­vid­ing cre­ative work­shops to young peo­ple liv­ing in hostels.

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