One of the most recent projects that I have been working on is a series of portraits of burns survivors (as yet untitled). Very much in its infancy, the project is an image and text piece that looks at the experiences of the sitter, not only in how their burns came about, but the effect that it has had on them both physically and mentally. The project has been in the back of my mind for almost a year but I thought that it was important for me to come to a finishing point with my Alopecia project and the Uncovered Exhibition, before taking on a very sensitive and difficult subject matter that could also take a number of years to shoot. That said, I haven’t finished the Alopecia project as such, it’s still growing, but it’s not the focus of my works right now.
Being involved with The Katie Piper Foundation over the past year has been a great research base for me to understand how burns and scars can affect a person’s life. I’ve been fortunate to meet some incredible people, learn a lot about the way people can be helped in their recovery process, and also see the psychological effects that suffering burns can cause. I’m really excited to be embarking on this journey with the people I meet and be diving into a project that similarly observes and examines not only society’s ideals and pressures of beauty, but the individual’s recovery process from a dramatic change in body image.
This is my first portrait for this project of Esther Sabetpour, also a photographer, who has electrical burns on 45% of her body, as well as amnesia. I suspect it’ll take me a while to put the text together to go alongside each portrait, so I’ll use an extract from Esther’s own website that sums up her experience:
Esther’s most recent project emerged from a traumatic yet profound accident suffered by the artist on 23rd of August 2010. It left 45% of her body badly scarred, scattered with 3rd to 4th degree burns, 5 fractures and a brain injury resulting in amnesia. Esther began by documenting her experience of recovery. This therapeutic journey began in isolation within a hospital burns unit and continued until the end of summer 2010.