‘Care’ and ‘community’ have become buzzwords in recent years, but the projects included in this exhibition attempt to highlight the genuine power of collective discussion and action from those with lived experiences in relation to health and social care.
Photographer Tadhg Devlin presents two collaborative projects Bound/Frayed and Across the Kitchen Table (Who is the Community?).
Bound/Frayed reflects a year-long project between Tadhg Devlin and a number of staff and people supported by the social care charity, Community Integrated Care. Together they have been co-authoring images which represent the experience of working in the care sector in some of the most challenging moments, whilst also celebrating the everyday work to support people who access social care, which is often hidden from the public. These powerful portraits capture an important moment of resilience in our society, made during equally challenging times.
Tadhg Devlin has also been working in collaboration with people living with dementia in Liverpool and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, to develop Across the Kitchen Table (Who is the Community?). Within society there is often a negative assumption that dementia is only associated with loss. The conversations and images captured in this work challenge this belief and demonstrate the importance of maintaining existing relationships, and developing new ones, following a diagnosis of dementia.
The participants in this work spoke passionately about the importance of meeting others in the same position as themselves, their peers, and the transformational impact this could have on quality of life. They highlighted the many benefits of coming together to offer insight, share experiences, perspectives and the difficulties of some of the issues around dementia. Without these experiences, often in groups, many of these individuals would be isolated in their experience of living with the disease. Throughout the country, support offered post diagnosis varies greatly with many areas offering very little support whatsoever.
By discussing the positives of coming together and forming strong supportive relationships the group hopes to raise awareness and to initiate conversations in other parts of the country to form similar groups, make connections and to offer support for those who can often be overlooked. An activity booklet has also been co-produced with designer Amrit Randhawa, that is hoped will help others in the future and to show the power of bringing people together.
Open Eye Gallery are also delighted to be showcasing the national touring programme, Holding Time by photographic artist Lisa Creagh. Commissioned by Improving Me, the NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s Women and Children’s Partnership, the Holding Time project aims to overturn preconceptions, challenge stereotypes and improve breastfeeding rates in the local area. Local mothers were invited to share their experiences in video interviews and participate in writing workshops and a photoshoot. Across audio, video, animation and stills, the mothers discuss breastfeeding in all its complexity, calling into question the barriers that still mean many women who want to breastfeed stop before they are ready.
Throughout 2021 Lisa worked with local mothers including a day-long event of workshops and discussions held here within our gallery. We are excited to welcome these womens’ stories back to the gallery space as an installation piece before it tours to local community and health spaces across the region in November 2022, as part of the ‘Baby Week’ programme.
We will also share work from our graduates from the University of Salford Socially Engaged Photography Masters course. Joseph Lee presents his Mindful Photo project postcard series. The project explores the potential of a combined practice of mindfulness and photography to forge connections, through a series of collaborative workshop sessions with various groups across the North West of England and Wales.
Vilija Subkute’s publication, Alone documents the lives of over 60s who lived alone during the Covid19 pandemic through imagery and personal testimony created by each participant, alongside Vilija’s portraiture work. Both works sit within our gallery’s reading corner, alongside a previous work by Tadhg Devlin, Amelia and Amelia; a DIY survival guide for caring for someone living with Dementia. This publication was co-produced with participant Amelia Roach, which traces the reality of her experiences caring for a family member living with dementia.
This programme has been funded by our Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Access and Participation Fund.