Behind the label: The Homeless Grapes Project

Rosa Nguyen
By Rosa Nguyen
6 months ago
4 min read

Since the launch of the Homeless Grapes Project in 2015, Australian based artist, Sarah Morris, has generously donated her time and talent to creating the unique wine labels for each regional project (McLaren Vale, Yarra Valley, Coonawarra and Hunter Valley). Instead of using traditional brushstrokes, she uses the personal stories of those impacted by homelessness and illustrates their portrait with words, creating a unique piece of typographical art which represents the person and the project with authenticity and heart. 

An artist, humanitarian, crafter and activist, she spends most of her days creating beautiful things, supporting those in need and inspiring others to do the same. She has been practicing typographical art for almost 15 years and has been working within the community development and aid sector for more than 20. We recently sat down with her to discuss her creative process, the Homeless Grapes Project and what we can do to help those experiencing homelessness. 

We discovered you through our friend Mikey who told us about your unique style of art - instead of brushstrokes, you use words. When did you start doing this and why?

I've been creative my whole life. About 15 years ago I saw a picture where the outline was made of text and it absolutely captivated me, so over the following few months, I practiced and developed my technique until I could form the entire picture from text. For me, words have always been such a poignant and powerful way of connecting with others, combining people's stories with their faces seemed the perfect marriage of these mediums.

What’s the the creative process like when starting on a new Homeless Grapes Project wine label? 

I always begin with the eyes, as the adage says, they are the windows to the soul. I find that if I get the eyes right, the rest seems to flow from there. I try to take time to really "hear" the person's story as I'm creating the piece, and then try to convey their story with as much integrity as possible.

What does the Homeless Grapes Project mean to you?

Theodore Roosevelt penned, 'Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." The Homeless Grapes Project is this quote come to life. So many people bringing together their skills, their gifts, using their time and resources to make a difference in the lives of others. It's so easy to get caught up in the enormity of the world's need, but when we take the time to use who we are with what we have each day, we really can be the kinds of people that make a difference.

How has homelessness impacted you? 

Homelessness is an issue close to my heart, I worked with homeless teenagers in London in my early 20s, and I saw firsthand the difference having a safe place to call home can make. Having insecure housing is something that, in the developed world, is entirely preventable. That said, it takes a village. Social workers, mental health workers, medical professionals, housing support workers and legislators all play enormous roles in supporting people facing housing vulnerability in our country, but we should never underestimate the difference we as individuals, families, friends and communities can make. Whether it's collecting food and resources for a local shelter, donating time or money, or simply taking the time to contact our local MPs and let them know that the issue is important to you, one of their constituents. Small actions multiplied are what changes the world.

We're sure there's more to you than meets the eye, what do you do in your spare time and do you have a full-time gig? 

I've always loved having a varied lifestyle. From regular creative projects in art and teaching, to one-off projects for charities, I'm always seeking new ways to stretch and grow and learn something new. I recently took up cake decorating as a hobby, much to my family's delight. 

What's next?

I'm looking forward to more art commissions and aid and charity projects, and, of course, honing some new skills.

You can check out Sarah's latest work on our Yarra Valley Homeless Grapes Project Chardonnay 2018 here