‘Street to Street’ gives voice to people with lived experience of homelessness

Shelter WA is proud to launch the official opening of STREET TO STREET, an extraordinary 50-piece sculptural installation giving voice to people with Lived Experience of housing insecurity and homelessness through the art making process.

STREET TO STREET is the culmination of Shelter WA’s first Artist-in-Residence program, featuring contemporary multidisciplinary artist Deborah Ralph-Kafarela. Ms Ralph-Kafarela is an established artist who has also worked across a number of emergency relief services over the past five years.


Over her 16-week residency, Ms Ralph-Kafarela engaged 89 people with lived experience of homelessness through workshops held at St. Patrick’s Community Support Centre, Ruah Community Services and Uniting WA’s Tranby Centre.

“The 89 ‘co-artists’ involved worked on prefabricated wooden houses, which are the “size of a hug” – we say that because the houses are quite an intimate piece of work,” Ms Ralph-Kafarela said.

“A simple medium for people new to art to have a powerful voice.”

“The houses are made from pieces that can be pulled apart like a jigsaw, and the “co-artists” used stencils to embellish them with designs of gardens, cladding, and interior objects that make a home a home for each participant.

“There are beds, tables, chairs and even things like pets and flower boxes, everything you can think of to make a comfortable house were made available.”

“We used stencils and prefabricated components which provided a simple medium for people new to art to have a powerful voice without actually speaking – it’s like another language to communicate what’s going on around us,” Ms Ralph-Kafarela said.

Permanent Housing

Unlike most exhibitions, Ms Ralph-Kafarela’s work is only just beginning when the installation is packed down.

“My aim with this work was to create permanent housing through the arts. Instead of being an artist that simply comments or creates, I want to be an artist that facilitates action and cultural change through the arts.”

“This work was inspired by a similar piece done by American Artist Rick Lowe, who obtained and transformed a row of derelict houses into real housing for single parents through a community art collective. The whole community was involved in renovating them, cleaning them up and painting them. My aim is to repeat this process here in Perth,” Ms Ralph-Kafarela said.

“We want to create tangible social change.”

“This is all about using the arts as a catalyst for social change that engages thousands of people along the way,” she said.

Artist Collective

“The Department of Communities has a program to rejuvenate ageing public housing. My dream is to create an artist collective a that can work in partnership with the Department on a housing a rejuvenation project.”

STREET TO STREET was supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Lotterywest and the City of Perth.

“This is Shelter WA’s first artist-in-residence program and we’re immensely proud of Deborah’s work, collaboration and vision,” Michelle Mackenzie, CEO Shelter WA said.

“Homelessness remains a key community issue across Western Australia. Giving voice and agency to people with lived experience is important if we are to work together to end homelessness. This is a big idea – but we’ve already had a lot of interest in the next phase of this project where we’ll hope to transform real homes.

We want to create tangible social change, not just comment on social issues,” Ms Ralph-Kafarela concluded.


When: Thursday, 16 December 3.30PM– 5.30PM (with official launch at 4pm)
Where: Artsource, Old Customs House, 8 Phillimore St, Fremantle
Who: The following will be available for interviews and footage:

  • Deborah Ralph-Kafarela, Artist-in-Residence
  • Traci Cascioli, Chief Operating Officer, St. Patrick’s Community Support Centre
  • Starlight Hotel Choir
  • Kieran Wong, Shelter WA Chair
  • Michelle Mackenzie, Shelter WA CEO

Media Contact: Chantal Caruso 0447 201 377

Further Details

More about Deborah Ralph-Kafarela here. More about Starlight Hotel Choir here.