Photographer opens the shutters on mental health

A SERIES of portraits of people living with a range mental health issues will form the first exhibition at Gallery Oldham in September for an Oldham photographer.
Lisa Marie Gee, joint proprietor of Studio G Photography with Scouthead-based Robert Cragg, is presenting her exhibition ‘Open Shutters’.

Lisa Marie Gee

As well as summoning up the confidence to talk about their mental health, the subject of every portrait says that they have turned their illness into a positive.
The idea for the project came from Lisa’s own experience of a breakdown and her ongoing battle with depression and anxiety.
Lisa, 47, explained: “I think the changing climate, in which talking about mental illness is becoming more and more acceptable, is fantastic, and I’d like to pay tribute to the leadership shown by Princes William and Harry in this area.
“I wanted to take it even further, and show that from the undeniable sadness and challenges of mental illness can come new strength, changes in direction, and greater empathy for the suffering of others.”
The portrait subjects say they found taking part, and knowing they are not alone, beneficial.
Acoustic Consultant Susan Witterick, who lives in Dobcross, said: “Just being able to talk about mental illness is a huge step forward but being able to say it’s been a positive in our lives – that’s huge.
“It could offer hope to so many who are struggling.”

Sarah Wait

Sarah Wait from Royton, who is a barrister currently seeking pupillage, added: “I feel like I’m in a gang for the first time in my life.”
Lisa is now looking for more volunteers to take part in the project and said: “We want the project to represent all parts of society.
“So far, we don’t have any portraits of people from the Asian community and we’d like to be able to put that right.”
Anyone interested in Open Shutters can contact Studio G Photography at openshutters@studiog-oldham.co.uk or ring 0161 300 6224. Also visit their website www.openshutters.org.uk or Facebook page.
The Open Shutters exhibition will open in the Community Gallery of Gallery Oldham on September 15 to November 10. There will also be a book to accompany the exhibition.

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