I had the honor and the privilege to work with service users at Waverly Care this summer and autumn and a few weeks ago we had the exhibition at the Traverse Theatre here in Edinburgh.
First off, it was great to work in Edinburgh for a change!!!
My memories of working on this project will always be based around sunshine. Every time I visited Milestone House or Waverly Care the sun was shining (ok I worked on the project throughout the summer but still)!!
It was quite a large collaborative project between myself as the photographer and two writers and of course at the heart of it all, the workshop participants themselves.
I anticipated this commission to be quite challenging because of the number of collaborators and the very theme of the project I knew would be emotionally challenging. The overall theme to the work was “to create images and writing which explored the experience of living in Scotland with HIV and Hepatitis C.” I cleared my schedule for the summer and worked pretty much exclusively on this. The workshops were a mix of chat and work, but always laid back, exploratory and most of all, really interesting. I was privileged to listen to people speak about their experiences in life and shared in their optimism for the future. As I said, my overwhelming memory of this project was that the sun shone, the weather was warm and we spent much time outdoors looking at the beauty of the world around us, appreciating the bloom of a rose, the red leaves of a Japanese tree, and how we can fit ourselves in to this world. As a photographer working collaboratively I am always conscious of the need to keep peoples’ identities private- whether that’s children and young people all the way up to adults who are service users and need to retain their anonymity. Never before was has it been so important to ensure that workshop participants were comfortable with the level of disclosure they were making within the public realm.
We had the exhibition launch a few weeks ago and the work looked good on the walls of the Traverse. On the launch night many of the service users came along to celebrate the work. I did something I NEVER do in my working life and that is, I had a glass or four of wine. We pushed some tables together and sat around enjoying each others’ company and it was such a fitting end to the project.
Here is a link to the blog which was set up to capture some of the writing and images taken across the project which I hope gives you the viewer a flavour of the words and images created across the project.