A Room of Their Own (2015-2017)

  • I was invited by Multistory to photograph in the region of the Black Country, a multi-ethnic, post-industrial region in the West Midlands, UK. The moment I entered a woman’s refuge there, I felt connected to its mission.

     

    We developed a collaborative project with the women who were willing to share their stories. We agreed that there would be no visual identification of the people or locations within the refuge shelter network. Some photographs have been redacted, pixelated or blurred for further protection.

     

    This book follows the stages of the refuge experience from the time it begins in ‘a room of their own’. An empty room may offer the launch of a new life, but it can also represent resistance to the idea of settling, and speak to the desire to move on.

     

    Susan Meiselas
    1 April 2017

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    Refuge: an institution that offers safe accommodation and support services for homeless and vulnerable women and their dependent children.

    Refuges are committed to the principle that women must make their own decisions, that they alone know the implications of their situations, and must take responsibility for the choices they make.

    Residents are given time and space to consider their circumstances and plan for their futures. Women are helped and encouraged to support themselves.

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    Janet

     

    It’s my home; it’s my safe place. I’m very, very happy far away from my ex-partner.

    Saved my life, saved my child’s life. I want the best for her. I want to save her, to see a future for her, make a new house, new life.

     

    I’m creating a room for her. Everything pink. She has a house, she have everything. I want this space that I have just for her because I want she be happy. She important for me, she number one, everything what I do, which I have, every last penny I spend for my baby. I don’t need nothing. If she happy, I’m happy.

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    Dawn

     

    When I shut that door it’s mine and Angel’s palace, that’s all that matters. What goes on out there, I don’t care. It’s what’s in here, what I’ve got in this room, with my little girl – that’s everything.

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    Ritu

     

    I don’t expect much from refuges, only support, help and accommodation. We got a shared kitchen, shared bathroom and shared lounge and dining room.

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    Priscilla

     

    There’s a couple of items in my house that are very sentimental to me. My children’s pictures were the one thing I kept with me all the time.

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