Gimme Shelter 2005 – present, ongoing project

Rainbowsoulclub member Ebby Addo making a mural, photo by Saskia Janssen

Gimme Shelter 2005 – present, ongoing project Rainbow Soulclub / ‘Gimme Shelter’

The Rainbow Soulclub, an initiative of Saskia Janssen and George Korsmit, was established in September 2005 and involves meetings and collaborative projects between art students and visitors to De Regenboog Groep (The Rainbow Group), a foundation that provides shelter and care for homeless people and for users of hard drugs in Amsterdam. The encounters take place in the foundation’s walk-in shelters and drug-users’ spaces.

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During their training, students spend most of their time in the protected and safe surroundings of the academy and their social circles primarily consist of fellow students. By contrast, the social environment of the clients of the walk-in shelters and drug-users’ spaces is primarily composed of fellow users, homeless people and social workers. Both groups meet people who they would not normally associate with, something which can broaden and enrich their way of thinking. The meetings and collaborations are based on equality and mutual respect, rather than being aimed at ‘helping’ or ‘healing’ the visitors: the interchange of ideas and thoughts is the key objective. Wherever possible, ideas are also actually implemented.


A great diversity of projects have sprung from these ‘blind dates’ over the last two years: painting bikes in the Vondelpark, distributing soup at Dam Square, pasting up posters in the city, drawing, painting, pottery, producing films, writing, cooking, creating collages, designing typefaces, recording music, making clothing, launching campaigns and even transmitting ‘cosmic energy’.

The highly varied collection of ever-changing activities has become a refreshing component as well as a welcome addition to the everyday activities of both students and visitors. A report on these projects appears every six months in the publication Gimme Shelter, which is posted on the walls of the walk-in centres as well as on this website. This site also serves as an archive for the drawings, photos, videos and documentation. For homeless people it is often difficult to store things, but on the website everything can be accessed at any time, even for family members in far-off countries. (Nowadays almost all homeless people have e-mail and access to internet in the walk-in centres.)Since February 2010 the Rainbow Soulclub has boasted a dedicated workspace in the guise of a specially equipped portacabin in the grounds of the Blaka Watra walk-in centre. Soulclub members congregate there at set times to work on their projects.

 The walk-in centre’s visitors can also ‘book’ time in this studio to work on personal projects. For   example, visitors who write, make music, paint and draw, and one who makes coconut-shell lamps. The studio then functions as a peaceful oasis to work without being disturbed, and offers the opportunity to store the work in order to continue working on it another day.

Visitors are currently working on a music project: a double album that bears the working title ‘Songs from the Shelter’ and is set for release in 2011.

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