Project What If - We The Curious
During the summer of 2020, I was commissioned by the art and science centre We The Curious to create an installation focusing on the question; will we ever find a way to prevent being ill? The installation is now on permanent display at We The Curious and is a collection of ten photographs of people with various illnesses and differences. The following photographs are selects from the different contributors I worked with whilst completing this commission.
The collection ahead shows visuals of a variety of health conditions and disabilities. Some images may show healed scarring from self-harm as a visible symptom of mental health issues. In this context, please proceed only if you feel well and safe enough to do so
Pictured at We The Curious, Bristol
Joey & Harley
Joey and Harley Watts are from Leeds. They suffer from a rare condition called supravalvular aortic stenosis, a heart defect that develops before birth. This means that both Harley and Joey have had to face multiple life saving surgeries, some of which the odds of survival were low. Their mother, Leanne, describes them as 'Warriors'. Their father, Martin, decided to get a tattoo of Joey's surgery scar on his chest as a gesture of love and support.
Joey & Harley
Daryl has a condition called Pfeiffer syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterised by the premature fusion of certain bones in the skull. This effects the shape of the head and face. He speaks to the struggles of living with the syndrome, and the strain of his friends and family witnessing him going through his medical experiences. Daryl is a professional model, with frequent appearances in front of the camera, as well as facilitating and posing for life drawing sessions.
Amiyah is almost completely blind, though she can sense light, and loved filtering it through her fingers during our shoot. Her mum, Jazmine, describes her as a determined little girl and that she is very busy being happy and free. Although different to sighted children, Jazmine said, "One thing that Amiyah has taught us is that she will get it done [...] Please don't feel sorry for her because she is not feeling sorry for herself".
Chloe has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and has self harm scars all over her body. Chloe embraces words that others view as slurs against people suffering with mental health illnesses. She has said, "It truly is an addiction and you get to a point where surgeons tell you that plastic surgery cannot fix the appearance of the scars, so the only thing you can do is love your scars so that the negative connections that come along with self-harm scars slowly disappear - along with all the pain attached to the scars [...] My scars tell my story, and I'm never going let anyone else's thoughts or opinions change that." Chloe has a sizeable audience on Instagram, where she promotes her clothing brand Broken Brainz.
Angela has vitiligo, a condition affecting the skin and causing it to lose pigment cells. A signed model, she has also developed psoriasis and eczema. Although struggling with the isolation that came with her insecurities about her condition, Angela has found that modelling has helped her to become more confident and is now frequently modelling without make up and exposing her skin in public.