This 2012 project was inspired by Richard Mabey's book, The Unofficial Countryside. Mabey spent his time observing the way nature survives and flourishes in cities, in spite of man's best efforts to concrete over every available space.

Participants from Streetwise Opera's workshops in London took a disposable camera each and had a week in which to capture images of nature surviving in spite of the city. They were asked to notice details that are normally overlooked and carefully choose images which resonated for them. They selected their favourite shots and created their own response to The Unoffical Countryside around them. This film by Joanna Coates weaves together their images and stories.

Some of these images are featured in our 2013 production The Answer to Everything where images of the natural world begin to invade a corporate conference, as the delegates re-connect with their emotional lives.

Meet the performer

'I've been coming to Streetwise Opera in Newcastle for two years and my favourite piece of music we've worked on is the Soldier's Chorus.

'I come to the workshops to learn to sing and have a good time. If you're thinking about coming I'd say give it a try, you’ve got nothing to lose.'

Meet the performer

'I've been coming to Streetwise for four years and my favourite opera we’ve worked on is Madame Butterfly.

'I come to the workshops to meet new people and build up my confidence.'


Arts Awards

Arts & Business Awards 2013, BP Long-term Partnerships (Winner)
Opera Awards 2013, Accessibility (Finalist)
Gramophone/The Times Music in the Community 2009 (Winner)
British Composer Awards (for Mira Calix, My Secret Heart) 2009 (Winner)
RPS Awards 2008, Audience Development (Winner)

Charity Awards

Andy Ludlow Homelessness Award 2008 (Winner)
Charity of the Year 2008 (Highly Commended)
Third Sector Awards 2008 (Finalist)
National Lottery Awards 2010 (Runner-Up)

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'The first time that homeless people have been given a platform at an Olympic Games'

The Guardian, Charlotte Higgins


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