Earlier this year Make Your Mark, the Arts and Health programme for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, ran a short course for adults with a learning disability that looked at identity through photography. Two groups worked with photographer Dougie Evans to explore their perception of themselves and each other using lighting, framing, movement and personal belongings.
The project was initially developed to address a need to heighten the profile of Learning Disability Services as part of the Trust. They felt the most immediate and engaging way to do this would be to create a bold visual presence around Trust buildings.
They used a participatory arts process, working with people who had used Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust services and focussing on their relationship towards themselves and how they could explore and express this using photography.
Dougie and the participants engaged right from the start due to his informal, inclusive and person centred approach. Several people wanted to know if there were going to be more sessions and the final group said they didn’t want to go home!
There were also positive relational and therapeutic elements to the sessions and bonds emerged within the groups as their new shared language of photography developed. One person said “The group was lovely. (I) learnt so much from this.”
They had a 100% turnout of attendees with a broad range of abilities and needs. It was so exciting for them to see their skills, enthusiasm and confidence developing over such a short time.
The photographs will be exhibited at Colonnade House on 13 and 14 October 2019 and then installed as a permanent exhibition at a Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation building.
With grateful thanks to The Bailey Thomas Charitable Fund, The Albert Hunt Trust Fund, Heads On, NHS and Make Your Mark.
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