Exhibition by Kent rough sleepers to go on show at Cliftonville mattress shop

John's art will feature in the exhibition

A 60 day exhibition of art, spoken word and music will feature at Thompson Mattress Shop in Cliftonville.

A Wondrous Place @ The Mattress Shop opens in August and showcases the works of people who are sleeping rough.

The exhibition will be opened by  Donald Waugh – one of the original stars of the 1976 Bugsy Malone movie – at midday on July 27.

Donald Waugh with exhibition co-organiser Dean Stalham

All the works on show and performances will be by men and women from Kent’s homeless community who have attended Arts Council supported structured workshops.

The aim will act as a drop in centre for those interested in furthering their access to the arts.

The exhibition has been organised by Ramsgate resident and artist/writer Dean Stalham and former homeless Thanet artist John Prastitis.

John’s art featured in the Prison to Pavement exhibition in 2019

Dean said: “We aim to give artistic experiences to those who wouldn’t normally be able to access them. It is aimed at raising public and professional awareness to the talents and the passion for the arts from this often so called ‘invisible society’ giving a platform and a voice to the often unheard.

“This is a culmination and celebration of three years hard work.”

Former gallery assistant John spent almost a year on the streets after being served with a Section 21 order to leave his Cliftonville flat. He will be exhibiting visual art. Internationally renowned poet Yuyutsu Sharma will be visiting Margate from his base in Nepal. Singer Peter Doherty from The Libertines will also be exhibiting art.

Charity leader and winner of ‘Art Battle Manchester’ Carlotta Allum will run life drawing sessions. Benjamin Zephania will be reading poems from SOS – Surviving Suicide Anthology. Eve McDougall will be teaching song writing and guitar. John Thompson, owner of The Mattress Shop, will assist by turning the premises into ‘A Wondrous Place’

Professional workers from leading charities Porchlight, Campaign Kent and Together for Wellbeing will oversee, advise and monitor.

The public will be able to visit ‘A Wondrous Place @ The Mattress Shop’ during the 60 day period with opening times from midday to 9pm. They will be able to view and take part in any of the workshops and drop in sessions.

Men and women from any vulnerable group will be able to attend workshops and drop in sessions to access artistic experiences.


  1. well i hope it all comes up to scratch . and i bet the place will be hopping with talent , i wonder if you will be able to get a quick bite there ?

  2. I wonder when will stretch actually engage with the community about their absolutely rubbish proposal for the Newgate shelter. They have done no real community engagement and exhibiting in a shop that isn’t really a mattress shop is a bit dubious….

  3. Thanks to everyone involved getting this together, I look forward to visiting and this project has my full support!

  4. What another load of pointless shite.The ‘homeless’ cough cough get more help thrown at them than any other cause.I have seen it time and time again. How about helping those that work their butts off for peanuts and have real strugglesbut get NO help- eh ?????

    • It’s not a question of either/or. Why would anyone disagree with helping others on the grounds that they also need help?

    • The thing is, Truth Sayer, the ‘homeless’ have – cough cough – nowhere to live. That’s a thing, isn’t it! Imagine. Even ‘working for peanuts’ is no guarantee of having a place to live – 700,000 people in England became homeless during the so-called ‘eviction ban’ since the first lockdown – and over half of homeless families in emergency accommodation have at least one adult in work. By definition they need help more than someone in a house does, unless that person in a house is falling into arrears and/or about to be evicted. If you’re actually really struggling there IS help available.

  5. is there no end too the people they are trying to rope in on thier arts obsession around this sceptic isle ?

  6. i know – why dont they have an old fashioned flea circus , to entertain everyone ? im sure there will be no shortage of performers .

  7. Including marginalised people in the art world is really hopeful – the world needs more of that – thanks to Dean Stalham for creating a platform

  8. A great initiative you’ve organised Dean…. The arts are for all, whatever our social standing. Music, art, theatre…. Is something we all have in our lives through the good and the bad times… as someone who’s seen the effects of homelessness, and understands what those people go through, I will try and visit the event while it’s on.

  9. A very positive initiative. Homeless people often report that they feel invisible. This gives a voice and visibility.

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