A New Year exhibition of fine art photography by local man Chris Howard is now open to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy UK.
The exhibition at After Art Gallery, 34 The Old High Street, Folkestone, Kent CT20 IRL is open between Thursday and Sunday every week till 28 January 2024.
The idea was inspired by Dr Andrew Robertson, from Canterbury, who lives with the muscle-wasting condition Limb Girdle muscular dystrophy. He encouraged retired photographer and cinematographer Chris Howard to curate the collection of artistic images to raise awareness of the condition and funds for Muscular Dystrophy UK.
Muscular Dystrophy UK is the leading charity for more than 110,000 children and adults in the UK living with one of over 60 muscle wasting and weakening conditions. The money raised will help fund groundbreaking research and life-changing support.
Andrew and Chris met when they shared the planning and delivery of a fundraising walk around 25 Kent Castles for the charity, seven years ago. Chris’ daughter has muscular dystrophy.
“After that first experience together, Chris and I would often meet for coffee. I was blown away by his wonderful artwork.”
Chris, from Whitstable, worked in film and television all over the world, with credits from film classics, commercials, documentaries and television shows including Minder, Peak Practice, New Tricks and Doc Martin.
“When I met Andrew, his enthusiasm and energy made everything possible.”
Titled ‘Reflections in Colour’ the exhibition, developed jointly by Chris and Andrew began as a virtual display in 2021. The exhibition and a Kent Castle walk have raised over £17,000 for the charity. Chris and Andrew hope the staging of the artwork in real life will raise further funds for the charity. Especially as visitors will be able to see in real life the stunning Giclee prints and artwork framed.
People living with muscular dystrophy have been intrinsically involved in the project, Andrew contacted people from all over the UK living with muscle-wasting conditions and gave them the opportunity to view Chris’s pictures. Many chose an image which resonated with their life and wrote about why they were drawn to it. Andrew recorded all of these, together with a picture of the person and a brief description of their lives and each is attached to the picture they chose. All of these are included in a book which is also available to purchase.
Visitors can view and learn the stories behind the images and can also purchase their favourite prints, mounted or framed, with profits from sales of the artworks being donated to Muscular Dystrophy UK.
Connal Kelleher, Regional Development Manager for South East at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
“It’s no mean feat to put on an exhibition of this calibre, and Andrew and Chris have put a lot of time and energy into it. The images are varied and unique, and it’s tough to choose a favourite. We’re grateful to everyone who has donated so far and would encourage people to visit the exhibition. All funds raised will help fund research and support people living with muscle wasting and weakening conditions.”
Andrew, a father of one, describes what the image, Folkestone yellow hut, means to him:
“The vibrant colours, which are fun and playful, show that with the right mindset, regardless of disability or where you are health-wise you can still enjoy life.
“The beach setting reminds me of holidays by the sea. The beach hut itself is an island surrounded by shingle stones, virtually impassable by an electric wheelchair. This shows that at times life with a muscle disease can be desolate and lonely, cut off from everyday life. Very few people understand how this can leave you feeling.”
“The Gorse Bush was my first image in Reflections in Colour and was taken in Suffolk, with blue skies and ploughed fields. I joined it with another image and at first glance, a reflection appears as though in a pool of water. But the sky is not blue and the gorse bush is not correctly reflected. The result made me think that not everything in life is as it appears. Just as life does not always go in the direction you hoped for.”