FOR almost 100 years, UK-based charity Lepra has supported some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, affected by neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy.
To commemorate Lepra’s approaching centenary in 2024, a touring photographic exhibition titled ‘A New Face for Leprosy’ was launched on 26 October at The Athenaeum, London.
Invited key supporters, trustees and ambassadors were joined by Lepra’s Vice President, HRH The Duke of Gloucester.
The ‘New Face for Leprosy’ exhibition is a collection of thought-provoking images from photographer Tom Bradley, alongside interviews by leading leprologist Diana Lockwood, as they travelled to Lepra’s projects in India and Bangladesh.
Typically, leprosy is represented by an aesthetic of fatalism, which revels in the most severe aspects of the disease, serving only to reinforce widely held misconceptions, fears and beliefs. ‘A New Face for Leprosy’ seeks to challenge the myth and perception of leprosy. By showing people affected by leprosy experiencing normal life, working and having a family, the exhibition encourages people to see past the disease.
“I wanted to capture honest portraits…one of the foremost things was to photograph people as human beings before people affected by leprosy. Even if someone has a disability as a result of leprosy, the photos don’t always show that.
“Sometimes the people photographed were diagnosed early and have absolutely no problems, which is a very important part of the story.”
Serious, life-altering disabilities often associated with leprosy can be lessened, or entirely avoided, with early detection and treatment. For Lepra, community education and engagement are key to controlling this ancient disease and reducing the physical, social, economic and emotional impact of diagnosis.
‘A New Face for Leprosy’ will be touring across the UK throughout 2024, beginning at Westminster Cathedral from 12th-26th January.