L e f t O u t
What would you do if you saw a figure wrapped in a bin-bag, hunched over in the street? Would you be a bystander or would you intervene?
Maxwell placed his sculpture Left Out, a disturbing symbol of homelessness, across London (Westminster Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Bank and Waterloo). On each occasion he observed the public’s reactions as they past, some stopping to investigate what they thought was a person in a bin-bag, whilst others would simply walk on.
“There’s a message about people being disposable. It’s quite a shocking a image. It’s the idea we see homeless people as garbage, not that we necessarily do but it’s challenging, more so than actually seeing a person.”
– A member of the public, Westminster Bridge.
Left Out, 2015 – 2016.
Dimensions: 60cm (W) x 60cm (H) x 60cm (L).
Materials: Jesmonite cast incased in a bin liner.
Original 6 minute cut
Filmed and edited by Liam Thomson
Selected Syndication Highlights
Artist Maxwell Rushton has created a sculpture called Left Out
that challenges our attitudes towards the homeless and the less fortunate
A bag of rubbish sits on the street. You do a double take as you realise that it actually does look like it is sitting. The shape of a person can be seen under the polythene. What do you do?
Maxwell Rushton has created a sculpture called Left Out, a cast of a human figure covered in a bin bag, but the artwork is not so much the object but rather the reactions it evokes in passers-by.
“The art does lie in the viewer and their reactions – or non-reactions,” Rushton says. “Roughly 70 per cent of people would notice it and then out of those, half reacted. That could be from looking over their shoulder to running over and trying to ‘save’ it, ripping the bin bag off. The other half would look at it and walk on.”
His sister Frankie worked for a time with Big Issue vendors in Leeds so the issue of homelessness has always been in his mind. He got the idea for Left Out last year after he walked out of a shop, tripped over a bin bag and spun around to apologise it, thinking it was a homeless person on the streets.
“A weird feeling of dread stayed with me for a few weeks,” Rushton recalls. “How I saw the homeless after that was significantly different afterwards and I wanted to create a visual cue that would offer that same impact of that experience.”
So far Rushton has taken Left Out onto the streets of London twice and recorded the reactions of the public.
“It’s not an individual, it doesn’t have a face, it’s not male or female, you can think of it as anyone displaced, needing help,” Rushton explains. “It doesn’t illustrate culture or creed. It’s about humanity.”
At a time that divisions are being drawn between people and nations, Left Out makes us all consider how we treat those less fortunate than ourselves while exposing the indifference of others.
“Seeing others walk past – I hope that frightens people,” Rushton says. “Then they can ask, ‘Who would I be?’ and go and prove to themselves that they would be the person who cares.”