Belfast Exposed presents the exhibition entitled Seen To Be Heard by award-winning photographer Jennifer Willis, featuring 32 portraits of women from Northern Ireland all living with a Secondary Breast Cancer diagnosis.
Photographer Jennifer Willis started this project 6 months ago in her Belfast Studio and brought together 16 women, diagnosed with Secondary Breast Cancer. They have united in their passion to educate people on the need for Secondary cancer care services to be changed. Willis has created raw and captivating portraits of these women who bravely bare their scars and also portray their everyday lives.
This exhibition is also part of the NI Mental Health Arts Festival, running from the 9th – 25th May. The festival aims to create a platform for high-quality artwork that deals compassionately and intelligently with mental health. A series of talks will be delivered focusing on the issues contained within the Seen to Be Heard project.
Through the development of this exhibition, hearts and minds have already been affected in local government. The issues addressed in this way is a creative response to what is considered an inequality to women’s healthcare to Secondary Breast Cancer in Northern Ireland. Brought together, the exhibition reflects the trauma, and courage of those who are living daily with a Secondary Breast Cancer diagnosis. The exhibition wants to shed light on these issues and appeal to politicians and medical people to act and support those with a Secondary Breast Cancer diagnosis. Currently, in Wales and England, the Government provides treatment, care and check-ups, this isn’t offered here.
The artist’s approach within this exhibition and the use of colour, content and composition, give a sympathetic platform to these women’s voices.
“This has been a very special project to work on and one of the most important exhibitions Belfast Exposed has done. Jennifer’s talent is evident through the raw and evocative portraits of the women. Through these works and the manifesto, Seen To Be Heard exemplifies how art can be used to educate and becomes a bridge to deal with difficult topics.” ~ Deirdre Robb, Chief Executive
Noelle McAlinden has played a central role in advocating for the women, commissioning Paul Marshal to produce a film with the women telling their stories, liaising with politicians and aiding in the delivery of the manifesto.
“I am proud and privileged to be supporting gifted photographer and compassionate friend, Jennifer Willis, in empowering these 16 inspiring ladies in her solo exhibition Seen To Be Heard at Belfast Exposed. It has been a priviledge to get to know these Ladies and support their stories in their own words recorded sensitively by Paul Marshall. These Ladies are not defined by there Cancer. Their patient voice is however precious in informing policy and practice. We never should underestimate the power of women lifting women and the power of the Arts.” ~ Noelle McAllindon
Professor Mark Lawler, who is pivotal in supporting the All-Island Cancer Research Institute says:
“This beautiful but thought-provoking and challenging exhibition captures the reality of living with cancer and we need to make sure that their message resonates so that there are clear actions on addressing the challenges of secondary breast cancer. I sincerely hope that this will be reflected in the new Northern Ireland Cancer Strategy and its implementation, so that we deliver the optimum standard of care for all women with secondary breast cancer in Northern Ireland”
NI Mental Health Arts Festival: www.nimhaf.org