this exhibition is shining a light on the uk’s homelessness epidemic

Photographer Jermaine Francis presents ‘The Invisibles’, a powerful selection of photos of the tents serving a temporary homeless shelters across British cities shot originally for i-D.

by Roisin Lanigan
17 October 2019, 7:00am

If you’ve walked around any busy city or town centre in the UK in recent months, you’ll have spotted the tents that are the focus of photographer Jermaine Francis’s new exhibition. As austerity measures and cuts to public services have increased, more and more homeless people are finding themselves turning to these tents, previously reserved for festivals or on camping holidays, as a way to provide some shelter for themselves or to create a makeshift home.

Jermaine began his project photographing the tents over the course of several months, with the final project, The Invisibles, being featured in i-D’s most recent issue, The Post Truth Truth Issue. Jermaine also wrote a poignant article for the issue explaining his reasoning behind the project, sharing why it had been a difficult one for him to create.

“I didn’t enjoy making this project,” he wrote. “About a year ago, I began noticing tents popping up around the urban landscape. I already knew that homelessness had increased and increased everywhere, not just in London — but the tents cemented it. Research from Shelter has revealed that there are about 300,000 homeless people in the UK, an increase of 13,000 in the past year alone. This means that one in every 200 people in Britain are homeless. If you add in those who are unrecorded, or sleeping two and three to one tent, that number is even higher.

“It felt strange seeing so many homeless people living in tents here in Britain; we are the fifth largest economy in the world. This is a place that’s supposed to be able to help the most vulnerable in our society. I decided to document them.”


That documentation takes the form of The Invisibles, a new exhibition of Jermaine’s photography with donations going to Shelter, which opens 23 October at London’s Protein Studios. In addition to the photos themselves, the exhibition also features an auction of prints, with all sales in aid of the same homeless charity.

“This project isn’t just about homelessness itself”, Jermaine explains to i-D. “It’s about how we think about society and the most vulnerable people in it. Things need to change, both in terms of the system and of ourselves.”

‘The Invisibles’ opens Wednesday 23 October at Protein Studios, 6-9pm. See the full story on next week.

jermaine francis