Monday, August 22, 2011

House Of Hope: An Eating Disorder Photography Exhibition & Fundraiser

Images are powerful. No question about it. We see thousands of images on a daily basis, and they impact upon our view of the world and our place within it in a myriad of ways.

When it comes to the topic of Eating Disorders & Body Image, there is a heavy emphasis on the negative. From the perils of Photoshop, to the unrealistic representation of beauty within a very narrow range of size, shapes & flawless appearance. I'm not saying it's not important to highlight the impact this has, and it's a topic that I'm bound to return to at another time, but I think it's just as important to recognize and throw our support behind the positive impact that images can have. Whether it's visual art, photography, or typography, images have power to uplift, inspire and brighten someone's day in an incredible way. Images can also communicate words that can't be spoken; truths that remain hidden; and tell a story in a language that is universal & individual both at once. Art saves.

This is something Melbourne photographer Emma McEvoy knows well. Her blog, She Takes Flight, is covered in amazing, beautiful, positive, inspiring images and it’s for that reason that 1000’s of followers - or ‘warrior’s’ as she prefers to call them – visit on a daily basis to make life seem just that little bit easier. Whether it be someone recovering from an Eating Disorder, struggling with depression, or simply looking for a dose of life-affirming positivity, it’s evident that her blog has a meaningful impact.

In her upcoming exhibition, House Of Hope, Em seeks to tell her own story of recovery from an Eating Disorder and give insight beyond the cold words surrounding the illness(es), that too often paint a black & white picture, of what is an experience with many shades for most. Through her photography she hopes to convey a real understanding of what it’s like to experience an Eating Disorder, without becoming mired in the bleakness or the behaviours. Eating Disorders remain poorly understood illnesses, and a part of the reason why is the prevalence of misinformation, myth and sensationalism. House Of Hope is a much needed and beautiful antidote. It’s not to say that the painful, difficult aspects of an Eating Disorder should be glossed over, on the contrary, but it’s so very important to understand that an Eating Disorder is something a person experiences – it’s NOT a part of that person or something by which they should be defined or judged. There is a beautiful soul within that deserves the same empathy and compassion as any other human being, and as an ED often robs the person of their ability to offer themselves those things, the role that friends and family play in support and understanding can be vital – yet such a difficult balance to find.

Equally important is the message of hope. When in the midst of an Eating Disorder, recovery can seem like something completely out of reach, but it is entirely possible, and I believe that’s true for every person. It’s not an easy path to walk, but I found that my own journey of recovery contained some of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learnt, and despite the difficulty, was worth every step. In sharing Em’s own experience through photography, House Of Hope is a reminder to ANYONE experiencing an Eating Disorder that you are not alone, that it does get easier, and that freedom is a possible dream worth chasing - because you ARE worth it.

The Exhibition goes beyond just photography, set in a character house and described by Em as being ‘multi-sensory’, you’ll have to attend to find out just what she means by that, but I have no doubt this is going to be a very special event and I hope that all of you in & around Melbourne will make your presence felt. I sadly cannot be there in person, but will certainly be there in spirit. 

House Of Hope will be held on the 6th of September with all funds raised going to The Butterfly Foundation(see below for details and RSVP). Please visit the House Of Hope Facebook page to help make this amazing, important event as successful as it deserves to be.

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